Last updated on December 19th, 2014 at 11:32 am
Kraft Foods Group said Thursday that its board of directors has named John Cahill, chairman of the board of directors, to the position of chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods. Cahill will succeed Tony Vernon, who has informed the board of his intention to retire as CEO on Dec. 27, the last day of the company’s fiscal year. Vernon will stay on as a senior advisor through March 31 and as a director until the company’s next annual meeting in 2015.
On behalf of the board of directors, Mackey J. McDonald, lead independent director of Kraft Foods Group, said, “Tony has been a passionate leader and was instrumental in leading the creation of Kraft Foods Group two years ago as a result of the spin-off from Mondelez International Inc. He has championed culture, brand-building and innovation during his tenure, which has led to multiple successful new products and brand rejuvenations, and raised the bar on recruitment and talent development. I want to extend my gratitude to Tony for his leadership and many contributions to Kraft on behalf of the board.
“With the company on solid footing after the spin-off, the time is right for new leadership to fulfill our potential as the industry leader,” McDonald added. “The board and Tony agree that we need to accelerate the pace of change.”
Vernon, who will be 59 when he retires as a director, has served as CEO since the company’s spin-off from Mondelez International in October 2012. Prior to that, Vernon was the company’s EVP and president of Kraft Foods North America.
Vernon said, “It has been a privilege to lead Kraft and establish it as an independent company. It has been rewarding to see the team’s many ideas bear fruit in the marketplace as together we launched an $18 billion startup with the soul of a powerhouse. As I’ve said before, the hallmark of every great company is that it makes the right adjustments at the right time. I’ve worked in close partnership with John Cahill, an outstanding executive in the consumer industry, and have no doubt that the Kraft team will benefit from his strong leadership in the months and years to come.
“Our success has only come as a result of our people. I want to express my great pride in the work that the employees of Kraft have accomplished in such short order, and I want to express my thanks to the many colleagues who made our success possible. Given the accomplishments we made together over the past two years, and the journey we have yet to take, I believe now is the right time to step back and devote time to the one thing I love more than our brands—my family. I leave knowing that we are on the right path with a strong leader in place ready to hit the ground running.
“The company is on track to deliver full-year results consistent with our previous expectations, despite what continues to be a challenging industry environment,” Vernon said.
Cahill, 57, said, “I’m honored to be appointed CEO, and I’m excited to lead Kraft through the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Since the launch of Kraft, I have worked closely with the senior leaders of the company and its world-class brand portfolio. The industry is undergoing a great deal of rapid change, and it is important that we keep pace and indeed stay ahead of these changes as we build a stronger Kraft.
“While our immediate priority will be to remain focused on delivering results, we will also take a fresh look at the business to prioritize our investments and focus on sustainable profit growth. I look forward to working with our talented team at Kraft on these efforts as we build upon the accomplishments over the last two years. We will have more to say about that in early 2015.
“I also want to extend my thanks and gratitude for Tony’s commitment, leadership and passion for the brands and the people of Kraft during these past two-plus years. He has transformed the company and set it on a path to success,” Cahill said.
McDonald added, “We are fortunate to have an executive of John Cahill’s caliber to lead Kraft through the next phase of the company, and I want to thank him for taking on this role. John is a successful consumer products CEO who has run world-class companies, with the experience to identify and realize opportunities to grow Kraft’s brand portfolio and take the company to greater heights.”
Cahill previously was chairman and CEO of Pepsi Bottling Group and, under his leadership, he and his team turned Pepsi Bottling into the leading bottler in the PepsiCo network, gaining market share in key regions, driving double-digit growth in international territories and improving sales execution and financial performance. Prior to that he spent nine years with PepsiCo in a variety of leadership positions. He also is lead independent director of American Airlines Group and a director of Colgate-Palmolive Co.
Cahill earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA from Harvard University.