Our client is a multi-national branded coffee manufacturing business operating primarily in Central and Eastern Europe with revenues of approximately €1bn. The company is majority owned by a leading Israeli-listed food and beverage company, and a significant stake was acquired by a large-cap private equity fund in 2008. This partnership was designed to facilitate the ongoing expansion of the business in its sector through further brand acquisition and investment in existing brands and to support the operational development of the company.
The new CMO required experience of the relevant markets (Central and Eastern Europe and former CIS), a blue chip marketing background and the ability to work in a complex environment with multiple stakeholders and a highly entrepreneurial culture. The business is decentralised with a small central management team and highly autonomous country management, having grown through a series of acquisitions of local brands. The challenge for the CMO was to identify marketing synergies while pursuing a local brand strategy, and to share best practice without creating a large group marketing function. Candidates also had to be able to operate effectively at board level and be willing to undertake extensive travel.
Our target universe included food and beverage and HPC manufacturers with local brand strategies and emerging market activities. Challenges included identifying candidates with both blue chip training and entrepreneurial experience in a business of equivalent scale. Heavy sourcing into target companies was required in order to identify individuals with the relevant mindset. Candidate intervews took place across Europe, and Blackwood played a key role in coordinating and calibrating feedback from all the client representatives.
The successful candidate was a Russian national based in Switzerland with substantial international experience in marketing and general management roles in blue chip FMCG companies, a track record of successful performance in emerging markets and a tough but flexible mindset.