Barry Callebaut’s ‘BC next level’ sees CHF 500 million investment in digital services and sustainability

A major company investment valued at CHF 500 million is being made by Barry Callebaut, focused on delivering customer innovation, sustainability issues and digital development, writes Neill Barston.

According to the company, the strategic review, known as BC Next Level, aims to save the business in the region of CHF250 million a year through improving the global operations of its cocoa and chocolate business.

As the Swiss-headquartered firm noted, the prgoramme aims to inform its direction for the next decade, including moving it closer to markets and customers, while also fostering simplicity and digitisation within its working practices.

Significantly, there will be a fresh management structure put in place with new global responsibilities under segments of the company including its Finance, HR, and Technology fields to further improve processes. Linked to this, it also intends to launch a customer supply and development organisation.

Consequently, its new executive committee is being reduced from nine to six, including the addition of several new members including Peter Vanneste, joining on November 1, 2023, as Chief Financial Officer, Jutta Suchanek, joining on October 1, 2023, as Chief People & Diversity Officer and Dr. Clemens Woehrle, joining on October 1, 2023, as Chief Customer Supply & Development Officer (pictured main image).

As part of the reorganisation, Jo Thys, currently Chief Operations Officer, will assume accountability as President Operations Strategy & Innovation, reporting to Clemens Woehrle. In addition, current CFO Ben De Schryver will return to a commercial role and assume responsibility for the North America regional division as Regional President. Vamsi Mohan Thati will become Regional President for the APAC, Middle East & Africa region. All regions will report directly to the CEO.

Notably, Steve Woolley, President & CEO Americas, Masha Vis-Mertens, CHRO, and Rogier van Sligter, President EMEA, have reportedly opted to seek opportunities outside of the business.

The company will provide a full strategic update and more details together with mid-term guidance linked to BC Next Level on November 1, 2023. The update will be presented at a hybrid (online/in-person) event taking place in London.

CEO Peter Feld: “Our mission is to be the heart and the engine for the global cocoa and chocolate industry. We have delivered robust growth for nearly 25 years. Due to evolving customer demands for more sustainable and innovative products, now is the time to bring the Group to the next level by strategically investing in its future. We will move decision-making closer to our markets and customers while fostering simplicity and digitalisation to advance our well-recognised innovation and sustainability approach to deliver additional value for all our stakeholders.

Sharing his optimism, Patrick De Maeseneire, Chairman of Barry Callebaut’s Board of Directors, welcomed its latest round of investment to develop the business. He said: With BC Next Level, Barry Callebaut is set to become even more customer focused, agile, and efficient. The Board is convinced that these actions will secure the long-term success of the company and benefit all stakeholders. The management team can count on our full support for the implementation of the action plan presented today.

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