At the end of June, Kraft Heinz CEO Bernardo Hees, 49, is planning to step down in what has been the most significant move in the recent executive overhaul that started roughly four years ago. The plan, at least for now, is to replace Hees with Miguel Patricio, who spent 20 years with beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, most recently as chief marketing officer.
Hees, of course, is leaving at a very critical time for Kraft Heinz, as the produce company has struggled to increase sales in the very slow-growing food industry. In addition, though—and probably more importantly—the company has been hit hard with questions from investors who are uncertain about the business model implemented by private equity firm 3G Capital, the brand’s second-largest investor. This business model focus mostly on cutting costs, even if it is occasionally at the expense of brand investment.
Kraft Heinz shares have been down 20 percent, approximately, this year. However, the announcement of Hees departure—and Patricio’s replacement—seem to have helped stabilize the stock, bumping numbers up 2 percent in premarket trading, this week. That puts Kraft Heinz’s market capitalization at $40 billion.
And Patricio believes this is just the beginning. Comparing his background in marketing to Hees’ resume, he has said, “I bring a very different profile. My profile can help the future. It’s not about liking what happened, it’s about understanding the future. We need to lead, not follow.”
And it seems that investors agree this move is a good sign. Analysts comment that this change in leadership demonstrates that the company is quite serious about reprioritizing with a new focus on growth more than just cutting costs.
In addition, Patricio notes that his focus will be to improve speed and organic growth in a way that helps to re-establish the name as a consumer-focused brand.
Hees also appears reassured, commenting that he has “tremendous confidence in the future of the company.” He also notes, “It was my honor to lead this organization for the past six years, and I will forever be proud to say I am part of the Kraft Heinze family.”