Martin Glenn believes he’s got “one last big shot” as a CEO after quitting as the boss of Birds Eye Iglo Group this week due to “battle fatigue”.
Acquired from Unilever for €1.7bn by private equity group Permira in 2006, Iglo Group’s EBITDA has doubled since Glenn took the helm, as he rejuvenated the unfashionable frozen foods business in the eye of the economic storm through a focus on marketing, innovation and financial re-engineering.
And, prior to a refinancing of the business last autumn - which netted Permira shareholders a €300m dividend - Iglo Group also reduced debt ratios from 6.8x to 4x under Glenn’s stewardship, while securing the €680m acquisition of Findus Italy in 2010.
But the autumn refinancing, and the decision by Permira not to sell the business in the summer, provided a “natural watershed”, said Glenn. “It was difficult to continue. I respect the decision, it’s a vote of confidence, but it was a natural watershed. The ability to consolidate the industry further is still there, but the issue is, this could have been me [tied up] to retirement age, and I’m not sure I’ve got the energy.
“Six years is a long time to be CEO of a blue-chip, and there’s an element of battle fatigue. I’m 52, and I’ve got one last big shot. I need a fresh start.”
Glenn, who will move on “some time in the next year” had not lined up a new position, but while ruling out a move to Findus - which is yet to appoint a new CEO following the departure of Chris Britton in December - said a move within fmcg was likely.
“Consumer foods is my area of expertise and aged 52 I’m unlikely to move outside it, but you never know.”
Glenn had taken the same approach when he left PepsiCo in 2006 as CEO of UK and Ireland and subsequently landed the job at Iglo, he added.