Whole Earth Brands: Announces Leadership Evolution

Chicago / IL. (web) Whole Earth Brands, a global food company enabling healthier lifestyles through premium plant-based sweeteners, flavor enhancers and other foods, announced an evolution of its leadership organization with new executive appointments, as well as an amendment to its credit agreement which allows for added near-term flexibility with increased leverage covenants. The Company also reaffirmed its outlook for full year 2023 ahead of its first quarter earnings release.

Michael Franklin, Interim Chief Executive Officer, commented, »The actions that we announced today are the product of several months of engagement across all facets of our business. They are aimed at simplifying our structure and fostering teamwork and collaboration at all levels. Streamlining our operations and enhancing cross-functional activities are key corporate priorities as we strive to enhance our productivity and generate sustainable long-term growth.«

Irwin D. Simon, Executive Chairman, added, »We continue to be excited about the sweetener category and the opportunities within our portfolio to drive innovation. Our ability to succeed requires an ongoing commitment to building a nimble and efficient organization that can better serve our customers and shareholders. We are pleased with the initial results of these efforts and look forward to building on our work in the year ahead.«

WFB Names COOs for Branded CPG North America and International Regions

»I’m excited about our decision to operate our Branded CPG international regions in Europe, IMEA, LATAM, APAC, and beyond as one strategic unit, which demonstrates our commitment to enhance collaboration, streamline decision-making, and build scale for future growth,« continued Franklin. »This move is consistent with our company’s philosophy of operating as ‘one company, one business, one team’ – all working towards a cohesive, common goal. Looking ahead, as we continue to pursue new opportunities and navigate a rapidly evolving global marketplace, our consolidated approach will enable us to stay agile, innovative, and competitive. I’m excited to be working closely with Nigel and Rajnish, our new Chief Operating Officers of North America and International, to accomplish our goals across our entire Branded CPG business.«

Nigel Willerton, Founder of Wholesome Sweeteners, Named as President and COO of Branded CPG North America Region: Nigel Willerton’s career spans over 30 years in the natural and organic specialty foods industry. As the founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Wholesome Sweeteners prior to Whole Earth Brands acquisition of the business in February 2021 he led the company for nearly two decades, making it one of the largest organic and fair-trade sweetener companies in the United States. Nigel’s visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to sustainability and social responsibility have earned him a reputation as an industry thought leader. He has also served as Chair of the Organic Trade Association Sugar Task Force.

Rajnish Ohri, Formerly VP and MD of Whole Earth Brand’s Branded CPG IMEA Region, Named as President and COO of Branded CPG International Region: Rajnish Ohri is a seasoned entrepreneur and accomplished business operator with more than 30 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods industry across various geographies and cultures. As Vice President + Managing Director of IMEA at Whole Earth Brands since 2020, he has demonstrated his passion for driving growth in underdeveloped markets and achieving positive results. Prior to joining Whole Earth Brands, Rajnish served as the Managing Director of the Hain Celestial businesses in the IMEA region. With his wealth of knowledge and expertise, Rajnish has established himself as a dynamic leader in the industry, committed to driving growth and achieving success through innovation and strategic thinking.

Company Appoints Bernardo Fiaux as Chief Financial Officer

Bernardo Fiaux joins the Company as Chief Financial Officer effective April 24, 2023. Concurrent with Fiaux’s appointment, Duane Portwood will step down from his post as Chief Financial Officer, but will remain with the Company for a short period to support the transition.

Fiaux joins Whole Earth Brands from The Kraft Heinz Company (Nasdaq: KHC) (»Kraft Heinz«), where he most recently served as CFO for the Meals, Condiments, and Foodservice division in North America. There, he supported the business in maintaining top-tier profitability and reducing balance sheet leverage to achieve post-merger targets. Prior to his role as division CFO, he also served as Head of North America M+A where he led two large divestiture processes at Kraft Heinz. Prior to Kraft Heinz, Fiaux was with 3G Capital, where he supported a series of deals including Tim Horton’s, Popeye’s, and the Heinz and Kraft Foods merger. Fiaux holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Franklin commented, »On behalf of the Board of Directors and our entire leadership team, I thank Duane for all of his contributions, wisdom and dedication to the Company, especially amid the complexities of the pandemic and the challenging macro environment that followed. On a personal note, I am truly grateful for his partnership and all of the support he has provided during my integration process and I know his counsel will be valuable in supporting Bernardo through his transition as well.«

Franklin concluded, »I am incredibly excited to welcome Bernardo to our leadership team at Whole Earth Brands. Bernardo enters our Company at an important inflection point where we look to capitalize on a number of opportunities that lie in front of us. His demonstrated experience and hands-on approach are an excellent fit, and when coupled with his passion and energy, should elevate our team as we embark on the next chapter of growth.«

Bernardo Fiaux, Whole Earth Brands’ new Chief Financial Officer, stated, »I believe that my experiences at Kraft Heinz and 3G Capital will build upon the solid foundation that Duane and team have put in place at Whole Earth Brands. I am excited to be joining the organization and help the business drive sustainable long-term value for its shareholders.«

Amends Credit Agreement

The Company announced today that it has entered into an amendment, effective April 24, 2023, to its Amended and Restated Credit Agreement with its lenders which increases the consolidated total leverage ratio covenant to provide near-term flexibility and improved access to its revolving credit facility. The amendment temporarily increases the leverage ratio by 0.25 turns for the first quarter of 2023, 0.5 turns on a quarterly basis through the fourth quarter of 2023, and 0.25 turns in the first quarter of 2024. Thereafter, beginning in the second quarter of 2024, the Company’s leverage ratio returns to a level not to exceed 5.5x. There were no other substantive changes to the agreement, nor material expenses associated with the amendment. More details can be found in the Company’s 8-K, once filed.

Reaffirms Full Year 2023 Guidance

The Company is reaffirming its outlook for full year 2023. The Company’s 2023 outlook is as follows:

  • Net Product Revenues: USD 550 million to USD 565 million representing reported growth of 2 percent to 5 percent
  • Adjusted Ebitda: USD 76 million to USD 78 million
  • Capital Expenditures: Approximately USD 9 million