Belgian importer Special Fruit has announced the appointment of Tom van Herwaarden as co-CEO of the group, to work alongside Patrick Maes, brother of founder François Maes.
Van Herwaarden is the first non-family member to direct the company, but is no newcomer to the field, having worked in a wide range of sectors, including in fruit and vegetables with Chiquita.
In addition to taking on the title of co-CEO, Van Herwaarden will take control over commercial activities as chief commercial officer, while Patrick Maes assumes the position of chief operations officer.
“With his expertise, Tom is a perfect complement within Special Fruit and therefore the best guarantee for the long-term success of the company,” said Maes.
According to the company, this new structure is a direct response to the changing fruit and vegetables market.
“On the distribution side we’re seeing changes with a major impact, such as retailers and suppliers who are working more closely together,” said Maes. “And undoubtedly in the coming years more new and important developments will emerge that will have an impact on our business.”
Despite the challenges in the market, turnover at Special Fruit grew by 6 per cent in the first half of 2017 compared with the year-earlier period. Over the last 15 years, the group’s turnover has quintupled, the group revealed.
“We are enormously proud of this achievement,” said Maes. "At Special Fruit, however, we’re always looking forward. What trends do we see and how can we proactively respond to them in order to keep our company healthy and dynamic? With Tom coming on board we’re strengthening our strategic capacity."