(Bloomberg) -- Kraft Heinz Co., in the midst of building a turnaround plan, hired the leader of Campbell Soup Co.’s fast-growing snacks business to lead its U.S. operations.
Carlos Abrams-Rivera, 52, will join Kraft Heinz in February. He previously was president of Campbell’s popular Pepperidge Farm brand, which makes Goldfish crackers and Mint Milano cookies. He also worked at Mondelez International Inc. and started his career at Kraft Foods before its 2015 merger with Heinz that was engineered by Warren Buffett and the private equity firm 3G Capital.
Abrams-Rivera’s hiring is a rarity in a company that has stayed mostly within the 3G family when replenishing its executive ranks. Kraft Heinz Chief Executive Officer Miguel Patricio and Chief Procurement Officer Marcos Eloi both came from 3G-backed Anheuser-Busch InBev SA. Chief Financial Officer Paulo Basilio, who returned to the role in September, has been a partner at 3G since 2012.
Since Patricio joined Kraft Heinz last year, investors have been eager to see how he will turn around the flailing business. The company had a tumultuous 2019 that included weak profit, a $15.4 billion writedown and an SEC subpoena. Amid this backdrop, it seems Kraft Heinz is moving beyond the typical 3G playbook, which is to slash costs until profit rises and then acquire competitors and repeat the process.
“I want talent, and that’s what I’m looking for,” Patricio told Bloomberg in an interview Wednesday. He cited Abrams-Rivera’s track record at Campbell, including oversight of brands that proved to be consistently successful. The growth of Pepperidge Farm and Campbell’s acquisition of Snyder’s-Lance under Abrams-Rivera drew Kraft Heinz’s attention, he said.
“The story of his career is building brands and turning brands around,” Patricio said.
Abrams-Rivera will face that very challenge at Kraft Heinz. Patricio mentioned Heinz Ketchup and Philadelphia cream cheese as top performers that can keep growing. Oscar Mayer and Lunchables, meanwhile, are examples of brands that are ready to be turned around, he said.
(Adds executives affiliated with 3G in third paragraph.)
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