Valeo Foods, the owner of Batchelors and Fruitfield, has beefed up its senior management team by hiring Hilliard Lombard, the former head of Aryzta's European and Asian business.
Mr Lombard has been appointed as managing director of Valeo’s Irish business. The appointment brings further top-level experience from a public company environment into Valeo, which has long been touted as a potential flotation candidate.
It is understood Mr Lombard, who spent over a decade at Aryzta under chief executive Owen Killian, joined Valeo in recent weeks. An accountant, he worked as an associate director at KPMG. He will report to Valeo's chief executive, former Aer Lingus executive Séamus Kearney.
Valeo is backed by London-based private equity company Capvest, which was co-founded by Cavan investor Séamus Fitzpatrick. Last year, it paid Origin more than €86 million for a further 32 per cent stake in Valeo. The company's investors also include Lioncourt Capital.
Capvest is known to eye a flotation of Valeo as an exit from its investment, although it is focused on bedding down acquisitions before it contemplates a run at a listing.
In recent years, Mr Kearney has focused on European expansion. Last year, the firm paid more than €200 million for Balconi, an Italian cakes and desserts business.
It also paid DCC about €60 million for Kelkin and Robert Roberts brands, while it also acquired Rowse, a honey brand in the UK. At the time of the Balconi deal last summer, it was understood the deal would bring Valeo’s turnover to more than €700 million.
Its Irish brands include Chef sauces, Roma pasta and Odlums flour, as well as Jacob’s biscuits and Shamrock baking ingredients. It has staff of more than 1,000, about 800 of whom are based in Ireland.