SPAIN – French food processor Danone has appointed François Lacombe as the company’s new general manager in Spain and Portugal a few months after the dairy giant indicated it is in discussions with a possible suitor for a factory in Spain the French group intends to close.

Danone was founded in Spain in 1919 by Isaac Carasso, a Salonica-born Sephardic Jewish physician from the Ottoman Empire, who began by producing yogurt.

Lacombe assumes the position with an enormous feeling of pride for heading the cradle of Danone, which has so far grown to be a benchmark company in providing health through food began to take shape.

To date, he held the position of Vice President of the Operations area in Europe and has 25 years of experience in the company, during which he has held general management functions in different businesses.

François Lacombe began his professional career at the European Union Delegation in Benin, as an expert in rural development.

Later, he joined the Danone subsidiary in the United States and, since then, has held positions of president and CEO of global and local brands within the company in different countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Algeria.

Lacombe stated: “I assume the position with an enormous feeling of pride because Spain is the cradle of Danone, where the journey that has led us to be today a benchmark company in providing health through food began to take shape.

“Danone’s impact comes from having the healthiest food brand portfolio for Mass Consumption, which includes yogurts, vegetable alternatives, natural mineral water, and specialized nutrition.

Being a company with a dual economic and social purpose has been in our DNA for more than 50 years, and we reaffirmed this commitment in 2016 when we certified ourselves as a B Corp company for the first time.”

He added that the Spain and Portugal unit has an opportunity to organize themselves to anticipate trends and respond to a new food reality.

An example of this trend Lacombe gave is the flexitarian food model, where dairy and vegetable alternatives coexist and can grow, which is currently increasing its trend in Spanish households.

In May, Danone laid out plans to end production at a manufacturing facility in Salas, a town in northwest Spain.

Later in June, the company had intentions of selling the factory in Spain which manufactures desserts, fresh cheese, and cheese flan and it intended to close.

At the time, Danone said the move would improve “competitiveness and industrial efficiency”. The company said the planned closure “is part of a rationalization process, given the need to reduce capacity, concentrating volumes, to guarantee the continuity of the brands, and to gain competitiveness and industrial efficiency”.

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