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Why a finance man, and not a marketer, is leading Kraft Heinz in Asia

Kraft Foods Group shareholders have voted to approve the previously announced merger agreement for the creation of The Kraft Heinz Company.

In a preliminary count of the voting results, more than 98% of votes cast at the special meeting voted in favor of the transaction, representing more than 69% of all outstanding Kraft shares. The transaction will create the third-largest food and beverage company in North America, and the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world.

(Read also: Kraft-Heinz merger: Good news or bad news for agencies?)

“Today’s approval to create The Kraft Heinz Company will unite two powerful businesses, deliver incredible shareholder value, and provide a platform for growth both domestically and internationally,” Alex Behring, future chairman of The Kraft Heinz Company and managing partner at 3G Capital said.

Meanwhile, the combined company has also outlined several leadership positions that will be leading the company. The company has done away with a global CMO role and has divided its business up by various zones.

(Read also: Is the role of the global CMO dead?)

While the zone presidents in Europe along with Russia, India and Middle East, Turkey & Africa previously held marketing roles, Marcos Romaneiro who has been appointed zone president of Asia Pacific comes from a finance background.

While Romaneiro first joined Heinz in 2013 as SVP global finance, he has already held the president of Heinz Asia Pacific for a year now.  This then begs the question, how will appointing a finance man to lead an FMCG or grocery products firm, which often has marketing at its heart, affect the business?

According to Darren Woolley, founder and global CEO of TrinityP3 the merger of the two is at this point about driving performance. Hence, the company has selected people with a proven track record in delivering results. Marketers, he said, do not necessarily have a mandate in the area of results delivery.

Woolley added that in the grocery category results are driven as much by trade distribution and pricing as they are by brand.

“The two run hand in hand. One is about building customer preference (brand) and the other is ensuring that the product is in the right place at the right price so the customer can purchase,” Woolley explained, adding that it all boiled down to whether these could meld to produce results.

He added that as marketers learn to focus more on delivering business results both in the short and long term, there will be more opportunities for marketers to lead businesses.

Paul Davies, managing partner of Roth Observatory International said that one reason behind putting a finance lead in the APAC role could be Asia’s need for efficiency in operations, more than other zones.

He explained that given Asia’s growth trajectory for its population, the huge shift to urban living and increased affluence, it will mean significant increase in demand for quality food products. This in turn means Heinz needs to focus on continuing to build its production and distribution capabilities – which requires a leader with a much better grasp of finance than marketing.

“However if they don’t build their brand alongside their growth in production and distribution they will have challenges in the future in terms of demand and pricing. The other key is producing food that fits with the Asian palate and tastes. So what will now be vital for Mr Romaneiro, is who he hires to be his CMO,” Davies added.

The Kraft Heinz Company did not respond to Marketing’s queries on the move and on its future APAC marketing plans.

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