New Leadership is Chiquita's First Step in a New Strategic Direction
08/08/2012 – Under the scrutiny of investors, Chiquita’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Fernando Aguirre recognized as part of the company’s second quarter performance report that financial results do not reflect Chiquita’s potential.
The formal statement made yesterday by Aguirre was, "While we do not believe that Chiquita's second quarter results reflect the sustainable earnings potential of our business, our results exceeded our expectations, in spite of the significant impact from the dramatic reduction in the value of the euro and difficult pricing comparisons to 2011. The negative euro impact alone was $26 million. Our Banana business continues to be stable. Our sales volumes were at similar levels to the same period of 2011, but the product supply surcharge that was in place for 2011 in North America and the large and rapid decline in the value of the euro resulted in difficult pricing comparisons to 2011. In Salads, although we had lower retail sales volumes than the year ago quarter, the volumes were higher than previously forecasted as we experienced increasing retail sales velocity on a same store basis, and we delivered cost reductions from 2011."
Within the investor call, Chiquita offset any frustration by announcing a new strategic direction focusing on the company’s core businesses. As part of their new direction, the board of directors announced that they have formed a committee to oversee the process of selecting a new chief executive officer, and have retained a leading executive search firm to assist in identifying qualified candidates to fill the position. Aguirre will remain as chairman and chief executive officer through the hiring and transition of a new CEO.
"It has been an honor to lead Chiquita for almost nine years," said Aguirre. "Chiquita's dedicated employees and management team have transitioned to Charlotte and launched its strategic transformation plan. Although the current economic times have been tough, I am confident that the company is well positioned to increase its financial performance and drive shareholder value. I remain one of the largest shareholders of the company and my main interest is to increase the value for all shareholders. I look forward to working with the Board of Directors to implement the restructuring and ensure a seamless leadership transition. The future is bright and the time has come to bring in new talent who can lead the company forward."
"On behalf of the Board, we want to thank Fernando for his leadership, dedication and commitment over his almost nine years of service," said Kerrii B. Anderson, Chiquita's Lead Independent Director. "He has led us through thick and thin, expanding distributional channels, transforming the North American Banana business, unlocking balance sheet value, divesting non-core assets, navigating through tough inherited litigation, reducing debt and consolidating our headquarters in the business conducive and growth oriented city of Charlotte. The Board is committed to increasing shareholder value through the execution of Chiquita's transformational strategy. Given our change in strategy, Fernando and the Board decided to conduct a thorough search to identify the best candidate to serve as Chiquita's next CEO and to jointly execute an effective and smooth leadership transition."
Chiquita, which has been in the midst of moving its headquarters to Charlotte, North Carolina since it originally announced the move in November of 2011.
In what was reported as an exclusive interview, Aguirre spoke to Charlotte’s local Eyewitness News telling them that fifteen people will “lose their jobs” locally and there would be a 13% reduction in global management (estimated to be 300 managerial job cuts). Chiquita employs 21,000 people and has operations in nearly 70 countries worldwide.
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