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Kraft Foods Group has made a series of executive management changes in an effort to position the Northfield, Ill.-based company for future growth.
George Zoghbi, currently vice chairman, operations, R&D, sales and strategy, has been named COO, and will oversee the company's U.S. business units while leading Kraft's integrated supply chain.
Before being appointed vice chairman in June 2014, he served as president of Cheese & Dairy from 2009-2014, in addition to leading the company's global export business. Zoghbi began his career with Kraft in 2007 as VP and area director of Australia and New Zealand for its global business, now known as Mondelēz International.
"George has led some of the most critical areas of our business and has a proven track record of strong execution and delivering growth," said Chairman and CEO John Cahill, to whom Zoghbi will report.
Chris Kempczinski, who currently leads Kraft's Canada business unit, will assume an expanded role as EVP of growth initiatives and president of international, in which he'll work with Zoghbi to formulate strategy, including M&A, and develop and deploy innovation platforms for Kraft's sustainable growth.
Kempczinski became president of Kraft's Canada operations in July 2012 prior to the company's spin-off from Mondelēz, and was named EVP and president of that business in January 2014. He came to Kraft in 2008 as an SVP overseeing brands in the meals and enhancers categories.
"I am excited to work with the management team as we continue to build a stronger Kraft and fulfill our potential as the industry leader," added Cahill. "Together, we will chart a course of innovation and brand rejuvenation that is built on clear strategy and efficient operations."
As part of its leadership changes, Kraft announced that three executives will step down effective Feb. 28, including Teri List-Stoll, EVP and CFO; Chuck Davis, EVP of research, development, quality and innovation; and Deanie Elsner, EVP and chief marketing officer.
Jane Hilk, EVP and president, enhancers & snack nuts, has been appointed interim CMO.
Additionally, Chuck Davis, EVP of research, development, quality and innovation, will be leaving Kraft but will remain with the company and report to Zoghbi until a successor is named.
“Our brands are the heart of Kraft, and no one understands this better than Deanie," said Cahill, who praised Elsner's "dedication and marketing savvy [which have] helped our portfolio of brands become a standout in pantries and refrigerators across the United States and Canada. I am grateful for her contributions over more than 20 years at Kraft." Cahill also commended Davis "for his commitment to quality and innovation, and the key role he has played in introducing new products that our consumers have embraced.”
The executive moves are viewed as part of a shakeup by the company's new CEO John Cahill in the wake of Kraft’s net loss of $398 million for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 27, compared with a profit of $931 million a year earlier. Cahill, who joined Kraft in mid-December, was previously chairman/CEO of Pepsi Bottling Group. In its most recent Q4 financial earnings period released on Feb. 12, Kraft posted a loss from a one-time charge of $1.36 billion related to post-employment benefit plans, while revenue rose 2.2 percent to $4.69 billion.
Kraft Foods Group Inc. is one of North America's largest consumer packaged food and beverage companies, with annual revenues of more than $18 billion.