He will take the reins of the French giant on September 15. Frenchman Antoine de Saint-Affrique is the new boss of Danone, owner of the Actimel and Evian brands. His appointment was recorded on Monday, May 17 by the board of directors, two months after the meeting which resulted in the definitive disavowal of his predecessor, Emmanuel Faber after a sling of shareholders combined with divisions within the board.
The new general manager of the brand of yogurt, infant nutrition and bottled water, with 100,000 employees worldwide, will have the difficult task of finding the path to growth. But also to turn the page of a “painful governance crisis”, in the words of the Chairman of the Board of Directors Gilles Schnepp, at the General Meeting of Shareholders at the end of April.
“I am proud and honored to join and soon lead a company which has always been a source of inspiration for me”, said Antoine de Saint-Affrique. He also says to himself “impatient to write, with all the Danoners [surnom des salariés de Danone], the Executive Committee and the Board, the next chapter in our growth and the development of [la] corporate mission “ by Danone.
Until now, Antoine de Saint-Affrique, 56, was managing director of the Zurich group Barry-Callebaut, which supplies cocoa and chocolate preparations to food giants Unilever, Nestlé and Mondelez as well as pastry professionals. His departure from this cocoa giant was announced last month, fueling speculation about an upcoming arrival at Danone.
His record at Barry-Callebaut has been praised. With him, the group experienced a phase of expansion, as well “in terms of growth than of cash”, underlines Jean-Philippe Bertschy, analyst at Vontobel. Enough to present a reassuring profile to shareholders who held Emmanuel Faber responsible for commercial and financial performance deemed insufficient.