- Private label food and beverage manufacturer TreeHouse Foods has appointed Robert Aiken, Jr. as president and chief operating officer, effective July 10, according to a company press release. Aiken replaces interim president Dennis Riordan who is retiring but remains on as an advisor during the transition.
- Aiken previously worked for Essendant, where his duties as president and CEO of the workplace products wholesaler included transforming the business. His food-related background includes roles on both the customer side as CEO of food distributor US Foods and food manufacturing where he was president and CEO of Metz Baking, a subsidiary of Specialty Foods.
- "(Bob’s)background, insight and public company experience will prove instrumental as we complete the integration of the private brands business,” Sam Reed, chairman and CEO of TreeHouse Foods, said in the release. “Bob has a clear track record of driving margin expansion through a relentless focus on productivity and cost improvement in the face of industry change."
TreeHouse Foods is in the midst of a corporate transformation. Among the past year’s more significant moves were the integration of newly acquired private label business from Conagra, an upgrade of its information technology systems, an organizational realignment and an executive shakeup. In addition, TreeHouse announced in April that it had sold its soup and infant feeding business. All these moves are intended to position the company for future growth as retailers increasingly look to build their private brand portfolios.
In May, the company said Q1 sales increased 21% to $1.5 billion in 2017, in large part due to an additional month of sales from the acquisition. But selling and distribution expenses were up $19.1 million, representing a sharp 22.3% increase compared to last year. Clearly, opportunities exist for TreeHouse to better manage the cost side of its business.
Aiken’s reputation for bringing changes to the businesses he oversees by controlling costs and driving margin expansion could prove just the right recipe to carry TreeHouse into its next growth and performance improvement phase. “I see significant untapped potential to simplify our operations, streamline our presence and improve our profitability, ” Aiken said.
Aiken likely will be charged with scrutinizing every component of the business in order to squeeze out costs. These efforts could include some possible elimination or consolidation where formulations overlap, dropping unprofitable low-volume customers and finding other synergies across the operation. If all goes as planned, it could mean a more profitable TreeHouse Foods.