China Food

Oatly’s next CEO candidate surfaced. Will he be from Mars?

If there is no accident, oatly is likely to welcome a new handsome from Mars, which is also the first CEO “handover” of the oat milk giant in ten years.


Today, the Wall Street Journal quoted people familiar with the matter as saying that Jean Christophe flatin, a Mars executive appointed as the global president of oatly last month, was said to be the most likely candidate to eventually replace Toni Petersson, the current CEO of oatly. But it added that there would be no change in the near future.

Eric melloul, chairman of oatly, previously said in a statement that “there is no change under consideration at present”. Meanwhile, melloul said Petersson led the search for new executives as part of the company’s board succession plan. He said he believed that Petersson’s leadership and newly hired executives would become a strong combination of oatly.


The people familiar with the matter also said that the company’s board of directors began negotiations last summer to find a CEO successor with more operating experience and let Petersson focus on business development. People familiar with the matter said that oatly’s board members have been concerned about the company’s stock performance and its production. The company’s American depositary shares have fallen by about 80% since their listing in May last year.


An oatly spokesman said that as a member of oatly’s board of directors, Petersson initiated negotiations on the introduction of new executives.

Toni Petersson (LinkedIn)

Xiaoshidai noticed that Petersson has been the CEO of oatly for nearly ten years since 2012. Xiaoshidai once introduced that in May last year, Petersson led oatly to officially go public on NASDAQ. The first financial report (second quarter report of 2021) handed over by oatly after its listing showed that the company’s revenue in the first half of the year was US $286.2 million (about RMB 1.854 billion), a year-on-year increase of 59.4%.


According to public information, before joining oatly, Petersson served as the CEO of boblbee, a sports and entertainment equipment design and development company, and previously founded hotels, real estate and other companies.


Flatin, who is most likely to become the current CEO, was appointed as the global president of oatly last month and reported directly to Petersson. The new appointment will take effect on June 1 this year. At the same time, oatly also announced the hiring of Daniel Ordonez, who used to be an executive in Danone and Unilever, as the chief operating officer. These appointments took effect on 1 June.


According to public information, flatin has more than 30 years of working experience and has a good record in the implementation of operation plan, integration and transformation of Mars. He has held a number of executive leadership, operational and financial positions at Mars, including three years of Mars chocolate business and 12 years of global president of Royal pet food. Flatin has also previously transformed Royal pet food into the largest global brand of Mars group. Recently, flatin also served as vice president of innovation, science, technology and Mars edge of Mars.


Jean Christophe flatin (picture material)

For the appointment of the above two new leading members, at that time, oatly said that it was at a critical moment of growth. With the increase of demand, the company not only needed to improve productivity, but also needed leaders with business experience to guide its growth strategy and avoid potential mistakes.


For the appointment of the global president, the current CEO Petersson said, “as we continue to expand production scale to meet the growing demand for our products, their good record in promoting growth and profitability of multinational consumer packaging commodity companies (including flatin) is of great value to oatly.”


Xiaoshidai once introduced that in Asia, the company has entered five core markets, most of which come from China. Tly’s revenue was disclosed separately in the Chinese market. In 2020, the company’s Chinese revenue increased by more than four times year-on-year, reaching US $47.452 million (about 306 million yuan). Among them, 21% of the revenue comes from e-commerce channels, which is much higher than oatly’s global level of 4%.


Oatly, led by Petersson, has a fierce attack on the Chinese market.


Petersson previously told xiaoshidai in a telephone interview that oatly will establish two factories in Chinese Mainland. The first one is located in Ma’anshan and is expected to be put into operation in the fourth quarter of 2021 (it has been officially put into operation at present), and the second one is expected to be put into operation in 2023.


Petersson said at the time that this (plant in China) enabled oatly to accelerate the expansion of different categories in China, such as oatmeal yogurt, cream and ice cream, and avoid the problem of over reliance on oatmeal drinks in the future through the diversification of categories. In addition, oatly also plans to promote Omni channel expansion in China. At present, the company has laid out three channels: catering, e-commerce and retail.


Meanwhile, at the first quarter performance meeting held recently, Petersson also revealed that the company has launched a number of new products to the Chinese market in the past few weeks, including a “tea master oat milk” specially created for high-quality tea.


Today, xiaoshidai tries to search the relevant information of flatin through the Internet, but it has not found that he has visited or talked about the public information of the Chinese market. Therefore, it is unclear how he will further develop oatly, a key Asian market, if he takes over as CEO.

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