Managing director and CEO of The a2 Milk Company, Jayne Hrdlicka, has stepped down. Hrdlicka said the reality of the company's growth trajectory would mean the role was “too difficult to manage” with her other commitments.
Hrdlicka said: “The reality however is that the next 3-5 years will continue to require the CEO being present in our core markets of China and the US and that combined with running a New Zealand company based in Australia required more travel than I had anticipated when I joined the company.
“The Board and I agreed that this next phase is going to be too difficult to manage alongside my other commitments whilst also managing the health and wellness priorities of my family and me.”
Hrdlicka is also president of Tennis Australia.
Former CEO Geoffrey Babidge will act as interim CEO commencing immediately.
Last month (19 November) Hrdlicka outlined plans for the company, with a forecast of $780-800 million revenue in 1H20. Full year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation margin (EBITDA) is expected to be in the range of 29-30 per cent of sales, stronger than previously communicated, but lower than 1H20 (31-32 per cent) (Food & Drink Business 19/11/2019).
Chair David Hearn said the board fully endorsed the strategy Hrdlicka had developed and that the plans she had outlined at the AGM would deliver strong results.
Hearn said Babidge’s appointment would ensure the current strategies and plans endorsed by the Board will continue to be implemented seamlessly during the period of transition to a new CEO.
The company’s China based non-executive director Jesse Wu would take on direct oversight of its China business.
In September, the company announced its CFO Craig Louttit would be stepping back from the role to spend more time with his young family. He would stay with the company as deputy CFO with Race Strauss joining as CFO in the second half of FY20.
At the time, Hrdlicka said: “Craig has been an outstanding member of our senior leadership team for many years and has been instrumental in the company achieving the results it has over recent years. Craig has been such a strong support for me, and I am very pleased that we have been able to solve for Craig’s personal priorities while keeping him in a senior position in the business." (Food & Drink Business 24/09/2019)