Will Howard Ella's

Will Howard is leaving Ella’s after just four months as MD to take on a new role at a company ‘with a great purpose, which is, of course, a B Corp that produces tasty products’

Ella’s Kitchen has lost its second boss in just four months, with the departure of Will Howard last week. The move is part of an exodus among the management team at the babyfood brand since owner Hain Celestial introduced a global restructuring strategy at the end of 2023.

Alongside Howard, who took over as MD when long-standing CEO Mark Cuddigan left Ella’s in September, finance director James Waters is also stepping down, while operations director Nella Jansson-Wright and HR director Catherine Allen have already gone.

It means Ella’s has lost more than 50 years of combined company experience since the US parent group launched the ‘Hain Reimagined’ turnaround plan in September, with the five departed management team members all having been at the brand for eight years or more.

Hain is parachuting in Tim Collins, currently vice president and general manager for the group’s baby & kids and meal preparation in North America, as the new MD at Ella’s.

He has been part of the Hain team for more than seven years, including six as general manager of the flagship Celestial Seasonings business. Prior to Hain, Collins held several brand leadership roles at large multinational companies, including Kraft Heinz, Starbucks and Procter & Gamble. As part of the transition, Collins and his family will relocate to the UK.

“I’m thrilled that Tim will be taking on this important leadership role at Ella’s and become a member of Hain’s international leadership team,” said Wolfgang Goldenitsch, president of Hain Celestial International.

“Tim brings strong management experience and deep category expertise in baby & kids, leading the Earth’s Best brand in the US. He will be a tremendous asset as we look to continue to build the Ella’s Kitchen brand and scale our business for growth.”

Collins added: “I’m honoured to have the opportunity to join the incredible team at Ella’s, who are doing such meaningful, purpose-led work. The team has built both an amazing brand and business by being consistent, genuine and truly focused on what’s best for little ones.

“I’m excited to see how we can bring that to life in new categories and strengthen our global baby partnership with Earth’s Best.”

Howard had been at Ella’s for 10 years, joining as commercial director and taking up the COO position in 2020. He will start a new role later this month at a company “with a great purpose, which is, of course, a B Corp that produces tasty products”, according to a LinkedIn post by Howard.

It is unclear whether Waters is leaving for a new role, but Jansson-Wright is now supply chain and operations director at drinks brand Moju and Allen has become HR director at plant-based brand This.

Hain did not specify to The Grocer if it had recruited replacements for any of the management roles.

“In September, we outlined our multi-year transformation, including key initiatives to focus our business, build our capabilities and generate fuel to invest and grow our business,” a Hain spokeswoman said.

“As a part of our focus, we are working to design an operating model that better leverages our talent and market reach to build and scale our brands. This involves shifting roles and responsibilities and presenting new growth and development opportunities for our team. Most recently, we have been able to align our teams globally and build key capabilities by leveraging talent within Ella’s and across our Hain business.

“For example, our head of innovation for Ella’s is now the head of research & development for our global baby & kids business. We’ve also created a global brand council with marketing executives from Ella’s, the US and western Europe to leverage consumer insights and brand-building best practices for baby and kids, as well as our other categories.

“We’re aligning our supply chain operations to enable our customers to order and receive our full portfolio of products and we’re scaling our commercial capabilities to better service our customers with category and consumer insights. While it is unfortunate that this shift resulted in the departures of some team members, we are confident that the operating model we are building will enable Ella’s Kitchen to reach its full potential.”

As part of the new strategy, Hain is aiming to make annual cost savings of $130m-$150m (£104.1m-£120.1m) by the 2027 financial year.

Hain CEO Wendy Davidson said: “Core to our ‘Hain Reimagined’ strategy is becoming a more globally integrated enterprise to scale our business and unlock long-term, sustainable growth.

“Tim’s success as a GM on Earth’s Best to now leading the number-one baby brand in the UK will only strengthen our global baby & kids platform. While we are sad to see Will leave, we are thrilled that he is taking on a larger leadership role at his new organisation. We look forward to staying in touch with him and seeing his continued success. He will be missed and will always be a part of the Hain team.”