- Several Chobani executives are leaving the company, including President and Chief Operating Officer Peter McGuinness, and the yogurt giant is delaying its long-awaited IPO, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- The 17-year-old company is planning to wait until at least the second half of 2022 or even 2023 for its public listing, the paper said, citing people familiar with the business. When contacted, Chobani did not provide comment.
- The fast-growing Greek yogurt giant has reportedly been gaining share in its core offering, while simultaneously expanding its reach into creamers, coffees and milks.
The market has been patiently waiting for Chobani to move forward with an IPO for nearly a year. Now it looks like it will be waiting a lot longer.
The sudden and surprising move to shelve the IPO, coupled with the upheaval in Chobani's executive ranks, raises a lot of questions over what's next for the Greek yogurt pioneer. The Wall Street Journal said the company is delaying its IPO over what the paper said was a volatile market. Chobani had been seeking a valuation of between $7 billion and $10 billion.
Chobani's first foray outside of yogurt came in 2019 with the launch of non-dairy Chobani Oatmilk. Since then, it has moved into cold brew coffee, probiotic beverages, coffee creamers and, most recently, milk. In a November regulatory filing, Chobani said yogurt generated $1.2 billion in sales for the company in 2020, while its other products posted net sales of $157.7 million. It appeared to be on the right track financially, with sales increasing and losses sharply declining.
Still, while Chobani revolutionized the dairy space with its Greek yogurt offering and the use of real ingredients, it may be finding other large competitors like Danone and General Mills' Yoplait are successfully emulating it. Other upstarts, too, have made inroads like Oatly, Kite Hill and Ripple by focusing solely on plants.
And while the Chobani name no doubt gives it an advantage as it moves into other product categories, it is going up against other formidable players here as well, many of whom have firmly entrenched themselves by debuting products several years before.
More puzzling is the abrupt departure of McGuinness, who joined the company in 2013 as chief marketing and brand officer before moving his way up the ranks to president and COO. His LinkedIn page noted he also oversaw Chobani’s marketing, sales, innovation and commercial finance. With his departure on March 11, it leaves Chobani without a key leader who has been instrumental in growing the company beyond its roots in yogurt and was involved with many facets of the business.
It's possible that McGuinness and Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya didn't see eye to eye, or that the delay of the IPO gave the company time to make an overhaul in its C-suite before it moves forward again on the public listing.
In addition to McGuinness, Chobani's chief people officer, chief strategy officer and chief corporate affairs officer are leaving. Chobani’s executive departures are partly influenced by the delay in the IPO, The Wall Street Journal said, according to people close to the company. Personal decisions also are a factor.