Di Walker

Di Walker would continue to ‘provide advice and counsel as we forge ahead with integration and grow our business’, said Sofiina boss Michael Latifi

Young’s Seafood and Karro owner Eight Fifty Food Group has a new leader at the helm following its acquisition by Canada’s Sofina Foods in March.

The management shake-up comes as Eight Fifty’s group CEO Di Walker and Michael Kestemont, the group CFO, step down from their respective roles.

Sofina Foods founder and executive chairman Michael Latifi is now responsible for leading the UK and European business.

Earlier this year, the Canadian multi-protein producer snapped up Eight Fifty Food Group from owner CapVest for an undisclosed sum to create a £4bn player.

Since the acquisition, Latifi said he had “spent considerable time learning about the UK and European operations with the objective of developing my priorities for growth”.

“I am pleased to announce that I will assume leadership of the Sofina UK and European business,” he said.

Eight Fifty Food Group: how CapVest built and sold a £2bn protein business

“In this respect I am fortunate to have the considerable business and leadership expertise of Steve Ellis and Simon Smith, who respectively lead the Karro pork and Young’s Seafood businesses. Together, we will continue the integration and implement Sofina’s strategy for the UK business while providing our customers with the best possible service in these challenging times.”

In a statement, Latifi said Walker and Kestemont would continue to “provide advice and counsel as we forge ahead with integration and grow our business”.

CapVest acquired UK pork processor Karro Food Group in 2017, followed by a bolt-on deal for Young’s in 2019 to create a new protein platform.

It sold Eight Fifty to Sofina less than two years after creating the group.

Sofina Foods is one of Canada’s largest food producers and has a 25-year history of acquisitions and strong growth in retail and foodservice. Its brands are staples in Canadian households and include Cuddy, Lilydale, Janes, Mastro, San Daniele, Fletcher’s, Vienna and Zamzam.