Hein Deprez is back in the driving seat at Belgian multinational produce company Greenyard following the surprise departure of Marleen Vaesen, a move which forms part of a new plan to strengthen the group’s business organisation.
Deprez, who remains executive chairman of the group, replaces Vaesen with immediate effect. “I would like to thank Marleen for her valuable contribution [in] transforming Greenyard into today’s modern, strong company,” he commented. “We wish her the very best in her future endeavours.”
Greenyard’s chief financial officer Carl Peeters, meanwhile, has been appointed to the new role of chief operating officer, meaning the group is now searching for a replacement CFO.
“After this initial transformation period following the merger, the announced management changes are a next step to further execute our strategy,” Deprez explained.
“By doing so, we will focus even more on our strategy and priorities to continue generating profitable growth and strengthening our global leadership position in fruit and vegetables.”
Within its fresh produce operation, current finance director Tim Van Londersele has been handed the task of leading all fresh operations apart from Bakker Barendrecht – a major supplier to Dutch retail business Albert Heijn – which will continue to be managed by Irénke Meekma.
Deprez’s son Charles-Henri is stepping down from the group’s board of directors to focus on a new role as head of Long Fresh, the group’s prepared and frozen foods division, with Stefaan Vandaele remaining in charge of the horticulture business.
Subject to approval, Charles-Henri will be replaced on the board by his sister, Valentine, while Hein Deprez himself is expected to pass on the role of executive chairman to Koen Hoffman, who joined the board of directors in early October 2017. It is understood the new chief executive will retain a place on the board.
Vaesen, who will receive a pay-off in line with her 2016/17 salary, leaves Greenyard by mutual consent at the end of January 2018, having spent a total of five years at the company as CEO of Greenyard Foods.
Deprez family-owned fresh produce company Univeg merged with processor Greenyard Foods and horticultural substrate specialist Peatinvest in summer 2015, effectively becoming the fresh produce division of the Greenyard group.
As part of that merger process, Vaesen’s chief executive role was extended to cover Univeg after the departure of Francis Kint.
According to Greenyard, she was responsible for establishing a new commercial structure for the group, effectively aligning the three different entities and making key appointments.
Greenyard's latest corporate reshuffle comes less than a month after the collapse of a proposed US$2.5bn deal to acquire US-based produce company Dole Food, a merger that would have created the world’s largest fresh produce company.