Former Premier Foods boss Michael Clarke has been appointed MD and chief executive of troubled Australian wine business Treasury Wine Estates.
He is leaving the UK to take up the Melbourne-based role next month – joining the business weeks after it issued a profit warning and temporarily halted trading on the Australian Securities Exchange. In its full-year results today, Treasury – owner of brands including Lindeman’s and Penfolds – revealed EBITDA was down nearly 40% on flat revenues.
Clarke is no stranger to tough assignments – in 2011 he was parachuted into a debt-laden Premier Foods and helped to start a turnaround at the business before leaving in January 2013.
“I’m incredibly excited to have been given the opportunity to return to Australia and lead Treasury Wine Estates and its portfolio of iconic wine brands,” said Clarke. “I recognise that Treasury, like most companies, has its challenges but I believe the opportunities are immense, and I look forward to working with my colleagues across the business to ensure that these are fully realised.”
Clarke has previously worked in Australia, having been based in Sydney when he led The Coca-Cola Company’s South Pacific & Korea business unit for five years – part of a 12-year stint with Coke during which he also ran the Northwest Europe & Nordics operation. Before joining Premier, Clarke was president of Kraft Foods’ European business and sat on Kraft’s global operating board.
“Mike’s work on some of the world’s leading brands is second to none, and he has previously lived and worked in Australia, America, Asia and Europe; all key regions where TWE operates,” said Treasury chairman Paul Rayner. “He has extensive agri-business and consumer drinks experience. In short, he has proven leadership ability and a track record of consistently driving improved business results.”
“Our recruitment process generated significant interest internationally and we were privileged to have an excellent short list of candidates for this role. Mike was chosen because of his strong balance of strategic and operational skills, and his truly global perspective.”
Clarke will have a handover with Treasury interim chief executive Warwick Every-Burns before formally becoming CEO on 31 March.