Chief Restructuring Officer in the Food Industry

Our client is a leading Austrian group of companies in the food industry with more than 20 established brands and specialized production and services. National and international orientation with a strong demand for growth. The group employs around 3,000 people and generates sales of around EUR 900 million.

The client for the interim mandate is the group holding company. The turnover of the subsidiary in Austria is about EUR 100 million with a total of approx. 450 employees at two production sites.
The larger location is out of date and can only be maintained for a short time due to the location, the cost structure. The smaller location has strong development potential due to the more promising product portfolio but cannot survive on its own in the short term without the overhead infrastructure of the larger location. The holding company and the previous management have drawn up a rough concept for the further course of action, this must be evaluated, revised if necessary, and then prepared for implementation.

The desired requirements for the Interim Manager are: experience with restructuring and reorganization, if necessary up to the completion of the closure of locations including negotiations with social partners. A generalist with a commercial background as a sparring partner for the management board of the holding company and mediator within the management. Experience at SME and with group as well, high demands on social skills, ability to communicate at all levels. Experience also in dealing in a politically sensitive environment.

Since the project had already started, P + P was required to present candidates within a few days who met the requirements and were ready for use within a short period of time. Our PREMIUM POOL Member 1471 was ultimately chosen from the proposed candidates, because of his experience in general management positions with commercial background in medium and large companies and his competence: restructuring and reorganization, corporate development, change management.

Phase 1
• Evaluation of the client’s restructuring concept
• Revision of the rough concept and elaboration of economically sensible alternatives (new location vs. closure / partial sale)
• Outsourcing / closure of a part of the unprofitable production and reduction of employees accompanied by process optimization of the remaining production.
• Optimization of existing commercial control elements
• Mentoring of the production and sales management

Phase 2
• Elaboration of a detailed concept for continuation at a new location with a lean overhead structure
• Optional: merging of both production sites in a second expansion step
• Decision to work with an international cooperation partner and negotiation with the holding board
• Maintenance and further optimization of the existing production sites, preparation of the transition phase up to the opening of the new site.
• No agreement in the negotiations with the potential cooperation partner due to different ideas about the implementation time

Phase 3
• Re-evaluation of the sole continuation at a new production site
• Start of discussions with national interested parties to take over both companies (branch companies with horizontal as well as vertical integration possibilities)
• Joint negotiation with the holding company board with the main interested party and ultimately sale of the two companies.
• Preparing companies for the closing after the sale has been approved by competition law

During the entire duration of the project, sales and market shares could be maintained, which was a solid basis for negotiations for the ultimately successful sales talks. Regardless of this, both companies have been optimized in terms of organization, processes and business in order to be prepared for any decision.

The takeover by a national branch participant secured both locations and jobs in the short to medium term, as significant rationalization steps can be implemented in the new environment. With the sale of the two companies, the transferring group of companies was able to sustainably strengthen the profitability of the remaining holding and avoid a significant loss of image by preventing locations from being closed.

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Walter Pfaller