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Arnott’s appoints Kraft Heinz exec to lead next chapter

It’s the beginning of a new chapter for Australian biscuit company Arnott’s, as former Kraft Heinz executive George Zoghbi steps up to lead the company through the “next phase of evolution” under new owner KKR.

Zoghbi will return to Australia from Chicago to commence the role next month, taking over from interim CEO Brian Driscoll. His appointment follows the completion of investment firm KKR’s acquisition of the company in December.

Driscoll said the team is thrilled to welcome “an accomplished executive of George’s calibre” to lead the business.

“We are confident that George’s leadership will challenge the business to seek growth and innovation opportunities so we can continue to serve our loyal consumers,” Driscoll said.

“This is an exciting milestone for Arnott’s as we transition to becoming an independent company following KKR’s recent acquisition of the business.”

After roles with Fonterra and George Weston Foods, Zoghbi started his career with Kraft Heinz in 2007, running the Australian and New Zealand operations before relocating to the US in 2009 as president, Cheese and Dairy.

He currently serves as a special adviser and board director at Kraft Heinz after having held the role of chief operating officer for the US commercial business. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors of global supply chain and logistics company Brambles.

“I feel very privileged to be able to lead a company with such deep Australian heritage and a portfolio of such unique and iconic brands,” Zoghbi said in a statement on Thursday.

“Arnott’s is an incredible business with extremely talented employees. I look forward to working closely with the team to continue the Arnott’s tradition, as well as introducing new, innovative products and avenues for growth that will make the Company even more special for years to come.”

US food giant Campbell Soup Company agreed to sell Arnott’s to the global investment firm in July last year for US$2.2 billion.

The company behind Aussie favourites such as Tim Tam, Mint Slice and Shapes was acquired by Campbell in 1997. Arnott’s and Campbell’s International operations had combined net sales of around US$885 million.

David Lang, partner at KKR, said it was critical to attract a strong CEO who “deeply understands global industry trends and our local market”.

“George has the long-term vision, proven track record and respect for the iconic brand value to ensure Arnott’s remains well ahead of the curve,” Lang said.

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