Ruzicka has been CEO since February 2014. © Orkla
The CEO of Norwegian food company Orkla, Peter Ruzicka, will step down from his role this May after more than five years in charge.
Ruzicka, who was made president and CEO back in February 2014, will leave the company having delivered another full year of revenue growth. The company’s results for 2018, also announced this morning, show that operating revenue grew by 3% to NOK 40.84 billion ($4.8 billion).
In all, Ruzicka has delivered top-line growth in each of his five years as CEO.
He will remain in his position until Orkla has presented its results for the first quarter of 2019, on 7 May.
He said: “After five years as president and CEO of Orkla, I have concluded that the time has come to hand over the baton. These have been five eventful years in which Orkla has achieved good progress in many areas. The group is well positioned for the future.”
Orkla chairman Stein Erik Hagen added: “On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank Peter for his outstanding efforts and good collaboration. Peter has done an excellent job of leading Orkla in the transition from an industrial conglomerate to a more focused branded consumer goods company. I am deeply grateful for the contribution that he has made as head of Orkla.”
The company’s annual report for 2018, released today, also shows operating profit from that $4.8 billion of revenue at NOK 4.3 billion ($5.7 billion). That represents a 3.1% decline on operating profit in 2017 of NOK 4.43 billion ($5.88 billion).
Talking about the company’s full-year results, Ruzicka said: “We have strengthened our position as a leading branded consumer goods company through several acquisitions in line with Orkla’s strategy of growing in new channels. At the same time, we are focusing even more visibly on sustainability, and are continuing to launch products in response to prominent consumer trends.”
In an acquisition-heavy year, Orkla made separate plays for Danish bakery manufacturer Easyfood, PepsiCo’s Pama porridge brand in Denmark, UK-based County Confectionery, and Finnish restaurant chain Kotipizza.
The company also bought a majority stake in Danish pizza chain Gorm’s this time last year.
“Through its investments in Gorm’s and Kotipizza, Orkla strengthened its presence in the pizza category in 2018 and acquired a leading position in a growing sales channel,” the company’s annual report claimed.
But it acknowledged that growth “was somewhat hampered by shifts in Norwegian retailers’ campaign category focus and increases in the major Norwegian grocery chains’ prices to consumers.”
Terje Andersen – currently CEO of Orkla Investments and formerly CFO at Orkla for more than a decade – will serve as acting CEO from 7 May. The company said that the effort to find a permanent replacement for Ruzicka “will begin immediately”.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019