Chiquita gains new CEO with strong turnaround track record

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Chiquita gains new CEO with strong turnaround track record

Banana giant Chiquita Brands International has appointed hard-hitting  Edward F Lonergan as its new president and chief executive officer to take over from Fernando Aguirre on Monday, Oct. 8.

Lonergan, 52, was president and chief executive officer of cleaning company Diversey where he led a financial turnaround improving efficiency, market competitiveness and shareholder value.

Previously held positions also include European region president at Gillette Company for three years and 21 years working for Procter & Gamble Company in a range of leadership roles including business development.

Chiquita directors decided to replace Aguirre in August following a second quarter profit fall to US$6 million from $78 million the previous year.

Lonergan is tasked with restructuring the company focussing on core products of fruit and salad-vegetable products with the aim of saving US$60 million a year.

"Chiquita has a solid foundation on which to build, and an excellent team in place that is well equipped to take the necessary steps to drive change and enhance operations," said Lonergan.

"I am committed to to working closely with the board, management team and talented employees to continue the company's financial and strategic turnaround aimed at refocusing and re-energizing the core business and driving down costs.

"We believe this strategy will allow Chiquita to enhance its competitive position and further align its operations and investments to increase profitability, improve cash flow, reduce debt and drive long-term shareholder value."

Aguirre, who has led the company since 2004, said he was leaving as part of a planned transition related to restructuring to cut costs and boost profit margins.

Chiquita's colorful outgoing chief shot to fame earlier this year when he appeared on the TV reality show Undercover Boss as an immigrant worker operating a forklift truck and checking banana loads on the shop floor.

The company also announced Kerrii B. Anderson as non-executive chairwoman of its board also from Oct. 8.

Chiquita has annual revenues of more than US$3 billion and employs more than 21,000 staff with operations in nearly 79 countries worldwide.

Related stories: Chiquita's CEO Fernando Aguirre goes under cover

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