Tulip appoints new CEO to tackle financial woes
Published:  01 September, 2016

Tulip CEO Chris Thomas has stepped down and will be replaced by Steve Francis, a restructuring and turnaround expert, on 5 September as the company addresses a range of commercial problems. 

Announcing the development, the firm said Francis brought with him extensive experience from the meat industry and of restructuring and turning around manufacturing companies.

Fierce competition in the retail market, increasing raw material prices, the loss of significant contracts and internal issues with productivity and pricing are among the challenges currently facing Danish Crown’s UK subsidiary Tulip Ltd, it said. The company confirmed it would end the year with a loss.

As a consequence of the challenges facing the business, Thomas had stepped down from his role as CEO and Francis had been appointed as the new CEO, Tulip said.

Danish Crown Group CEO, Jais Valeur, commented: “We would like to thank Chris Thomas for his efforts over the past three years, and I wish him all the best in the future.”

Francis comes to Tulip Ltd with extensive international experience of turning around companies which are facing difficulties. He has experience from several sectors, including the food and meat industries and he is described as an expert in solving complex problems in companies where “that’s what we usually do” no longer suffices.

“In the course of his career, our new CEO Steve Francis has on several occasions demonstrated that he is able to effect change within a short period of time,” said Valeur.

“Over the summer, we have realised that there are significant gains to be made through more focused efforts and closer cooperation with the rest of the group. We want to regain our position as the preferred choice among consumers and customers in the key UK market. This task is now in the hands of Tulip Ltd’s new CEO.”

Francis said: “I am excited to be joining the leadership team at Tulip. Tulip is a great British business supported by a powerful parent and business partner in Danish Crown. I am convinced that working with passion for food, passion for farming and with pace, discipline and precision as a team we can overtake our rivals and return to our rightful position as the number 1 player in pork.”

Francis holds a Master’s degree in Physics from Oxford University. He has worked for international companies such as McKinsey, PwC and Barclays, and has held a number of executive positions with the Dutch slaughterhouse group Vion Food Group, where he worked from 2008-2012.

Most recently, he was CEO of the UK company Danwood from 2012-2015, where he successfully turned a loss of more than DKK 80 million (£9m) into a profit of more than DKK 50m (£5.7m) within the space of 12 months.

No information has been released about Thomas’ future plans.

Tulip is best known for pork processing, but also makes a wider range of meat products for retail, business, wholesale and foodservice customers. It employs 7,000 people across 17 UK sites and claims an annual turnover of more than £1bn.

In May, the company disclosed plans to recruit more than 100 people for its King's Lynn production facility following an increase in the volume of sliced, cooked meats manufactured at the site.