Blackwood’s client is a market-leading manufacturer of branded chilled and ambient food, headquartered in Belgium with operations in Germany, France, Belgium and the Nordic region and a turnover of approximately €400 million. In late 2013 the company was acquired from the US parent company by a large-cap private equity fund. Blackwood was appointed by the private equity fund shortly prior to completion of the deal and worked with the buy-in CEO to supplement the existing management team and find an MD dedicated to the French market.
The business is profitable with strong market share, but requires tighter cost management, increased above the line investment and a more focused approach to portfolio management and innovation. The incoming MD France needed to bring proven general management experience, deep relationships with French grocery retailers and a track record of delivering growth and managing acquisitions and integrations. The client had a strong preference for individuals with blue chip sales and marketing training, combined with recent private equity or entrepreneurial experience. Whilst candidates needed deep knowledge of the French market, an international mindset was also required.
Candidates included CEOs and divisional MDs from French and multi-national food and beverage businesses. The management teams of all private equity food deals in the French and adjacent markets were mapped and referenced. Thorough sourcing identified candidates from large cap multi-nationals who had moved on to entrepreneurial opportunities or who had a sufficiently entrepreneurial mindset to work effectively in a PE-backed business.
The successful candidate had sales, marketing and GM experience in a blue chip food manufacturer before moving into a founder-led entrepreneurial business.