Sector News

Aryzta's Jackson to replace Geary at Pallas

January 23, 2018
Food & Drink

Dan Geary, the CEO of Ireland’s largest food service wholesaler Pallas Foods, is to hand over the reins to Aryzta executive Peter Jackson, the Irish Independent has learned.

It will be the first time since it was established more than 30 years ago that Limerick-based Pallas will be led by someone who was not part of the founding Geary family.

The business supplies thousands of Irish hotels, shops, restaurants and bars.

The low-key Gearys sold the business to US food service giant Sysco for a rumoured €200m in 2009. It was Sysco’s first acquisition in Europe.

Dan Geary has since overseen significant growth at Pallas Foods. The Irish firm’s annual turnover is thought to be close to €500m. That compares with €155m when it was bought.

Mr Jackson is currently the managing director of Aryzta’s European food service division, a senior role within the group. He’ll join Pallas in April and Mr Geary will leave in June.

Dan Geary’s father, Tim, founded the Pallas Foods business in 1983, initially raising turkeys. Dan Geary has worked with the firm since then.

Within a year, the company began distributing meat such as lamb and beef as well as poultry. It processed meat until 2002, when it exited that side of the food chain to focus on distribution.

Other family members were also involved in the company. Dan Geary’s brother, Tadgh, was once the commercial director, but Dan is the last remaining member of the family working in the business.

Tim Geary died just three weeks ago.

When it was acquired, the management team at Pallas Foods signed commitments to stay with the business for up to five years.

Sysco confirmed that Mr Geary is to leave the business.

“It has been a pleasure working with Dan, and we thank him for the strong leadership through the years, and we wish him every success in the future,” said Ajoy Karna, Sysco’s senior vice president, international foodservice operations, Europe.

Last year, Sysco merged with UK food specialist group Brakes, which it acquired in 2016, with Pallas Foods.

Embattled Aryzta, the Swiss-Irish food group that owns the Cuisine de France brand, embarked on a huge turnaround programme last year.

In September, Kevin Toland, the former CEO of the DAA, which runs Dublin and Cork airports, took over as Aryzta CEO. He succeeded Owen Killian, who departed in the wake of profit warnings and a failed US strategy.

Mr Toland has been charged with repairing and reinvigorating Aryzta, whose chairman is seasoned corporate veteran Gary McGann, the former CEO of packaging giant Smurfit Kappa.

Mr Jackson’s departure from Aryzta will see the group have to fill another senior vacancy at the group. The executive has worked with the food group since 2013, when he joined as managing director of Aryzta’s food solutions unit in Ireland.

Prior to that, Mr Jackson was CEO of Kepak’s convenience food division, a role he’d held for seven years.

Kepak is one of Europe’s biggest food processing firms. It’s owned by the Keating family.

Last week, Aryzta said it has appointed industry veteran Dave Johnson as CEO of its North America business. He was a senior executive at Swiss cocoa giant Barry Callebaut, and is a ex-Kraft executive.

Aryzta also poached the DAA’s chief development officer, John Heffernan, as its new chief strategy officer.

By John Mulligan

Source: Irish Independent

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