Struggling food manufacturer Yowie has decided to bring in a new chief financial officer (CFO) to try and deal with its losses throughout 2018. It opted to hire Wayne Brekke, who has a wealth of experience working for big food corporations worldwide.
Brekke has been employed by both McDonald’s and Kraft Foods, serving in ‘financial leadership positions’ for the companies between 1988 and 2002. Since then, he has worked for US baker Cloverhill and most recently for the Garvey Group as Group Controller. The Garvey Group is a subsidiary of Australian packaging company Orora Ltd.
His experience in a range of roles for various businesses is likely to be useful. Yowie has confirmed that it is initially bringing Brekke in to try and ‘drive growth.’ This move means that significant restructuring processes are on the way for the company.
Yowie is on the Sydney Stock Exchange, but it also has operations in the US, Canada, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region. It hopes that Brekke can maintain current expansion expectations while also keeping a tighter lead on cost control.
The hire means that Yowie will likely end up shifting some of its focus to the US. It said in a statement: ‘Wayne is replacing current finance staff and reorganizing the function to Chicago.’ This move may not please its Australian operations but could help open the company to US investment in the future. If the US market allows Yowie access to greater supply chains in the northern part of America, then this could help the company proliferate in that market while maintaining its Perth base as an easier reach to the Asia Pacific area.
Brekke will be taking on Yowie’s financial reporting, budgeting and strategic planning as well as working with investors and being responsible for the company’s information technology.
Yowie has faced continual shakeups over the last year. Its current CEO, Mark Schuessler, only signed on in January of this year, when previous leader Bert Alfonso opted to leave the company. At the same time, two of its directors also left, leaving Yowie in a state of transition that it has yet to fully recover from.
When Alfonso left, its fiscal expectations for sales reduced drastically from 55% to 17%, which suggests that its former management was not working at the level that the company had hoped for.
Yowie also flatlined in sales. Its figures from the last financial year showed a 0.2% increase to $19.5m after excluding a series of write-downs on stock costs and inventory adjustments. When these were taken into account, the resulting figure was $17.5m, a drop of 10%.
The company’s most recent figures from the first quarter of this financial year suggest that it is on track for reaching its expectation of $3.7m. It did not release comparative figures from the previous year, but indications show that they are up and that management changes have allowed Yowie to start to turn around.