-- Danone reshapes management and lays out a plan to achieve mid-term growth

-- Chief Financial Officer Cecile Cabanis will leave in February 2021

-- The company restated full-year guidance while reporting a third-quarter sales decline

   By Giulia Petroni 

Danone SA laid out a plan that includes a reorganization of its structure and strategic review of its asset portfolio as it adapts to the new challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis.

The French food company on Monday said Chief Financial Officer Cecile Cabanis would leave in February 2021 and be succeeded by Juergen Esser, currently CFO of the waters and Africa divisions. Mr. Esser will report directly to Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Faber and be a member of the executive committee.

As part of a major reshape of its organization, Danone appointed Veronique Penchienati-Bosetta and Shane Grant as CEOs of Danone International and Danone North America respectively, effective on Nov. 1. It also named Henri Bruxelles as newly created chief operating officer for end-to-end design to delivery.

The company said it expects to start implementing its plan from the first quarter of 2021.

Danone reinstated its guidance for the full year, saying it now targets recurring operating margin at 14% and 1.8 billion euros ($2.11 billion) in free cash flow. It added it's currently reviewing its portfolio and assets, particularly its Argentina business and Vega brand, as it targets a 3% to 5% profitable growth in the mid term on a like-for-like basis.

Sales in the third-quarter of the year amounted to EUR5.82 billion from EUR6.42 billion in the previous-year period. An analysts' consensus compiled by FactSet had forecast the figure at EUR5.95 billion.

On a like-for-like basis, sales fell 2.5%.

Sales in Europe and North America improved in the quarter, while the rest of the world--including China, Latin America and Africa--experienced continued pressure.

The essential dairy and plant-based business delivered strong growth, with sales rising 3.7% in the quarter, while specialized nutrition saw a 5.7% decline on year partly due to China's negative performance. The waters division showed some improvements compared to the previous quarter, but still suffered the negative effects of lockdown policies, Danone said.

The company expects the fourth quarter to be affected by channel dynamics and macroeconomic headwinds due to the pandemic as the environment remains volatile.


Write to Giulia Petroni at giulia.petroni@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 19, 2020 03:09 ET (07:09 GMT)

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