USA – American food company specializing in strained yogurt Chobani has named Kevin Burns as its new president and chief operating officer.
Burns is replacing Peter McGuinness who left the company earlier this month to serve as the new CEO for plant protein company Impossible Foods.
He previously served as Chobani’s president and chief operating officer before leaving in 2016 to become CEO of Juul Labs.
In his previous tenure, he played a vital role in taming its expenses, improving logistics and making it profitable at a critical point in its growth story.
Burns will be one of several new executives at Chobani, which reportedly saw a large recent exodus that came at the same time as the company’s decision to delay its long-awaited IPO.
Chobani reportedly will not go public until later this year or 2023, according to The Wall Street Journal.
When Burns left Chobani in 2016, Business Insider reported a letter to employees from Ulukaya that said the executive would “always be part of the family.”
Now, with Chobani at an inflection point, Burns is coming back to that home with deep knowledge and insights which could prove useful as the manufacturer continues to broaden its product portfolio beyond Greek yogurt.
“I believe the company has just begun its transformation and category expansion that will fuel its growth over the coming years,” Burns said in the memo announcing his return to Chobani.
There’s a lot of fertile ground for Burns to build on at Chobani particularly now when it’s an expansion beyond the dairy yogurt into diverse categories including plant-based yogurts, coffee, peanut butter and milk.
Chobani’s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission indicated that its sales had increased at a compound annual growth rate of 19% between fiscal years 2010 and 2020.
There still could be a large amount of growth in store, particularly in the plant-based segment, with the right leader at the helm.
There is also the matter of guiding Chobani through its IPO, whenever it may happen and he is likely to have the expertise to prepare the company for IPO, as well as the savvy for determining the best time to go public.
Burns’ obvious chemistry with Ulukaya and the rest of Chobani could prove useful as the company is in transition.
The company will however need to replace its chief people officer, chief strategy officer and chief corporate affairs officer, all of whom recently left the company, according to The Wall Street Journal.
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