CHICAGO — Miguel Patricio has been appointed chief executive officer of the Kraft Heinz Co., effective July 1. He will succeed Bernardo Hees, who has led the company since 2015.
Mr. Hees is leaving the company at a challenging time for Kraft Heinz. In February, the company’s share price plummeted more than 27% to a record low after the company said it was forced into a write-down of the value of its Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands by $15.4 billion. The charges contributed to a difficult fourth quarter and fiscal year at Kraft Heinz. In the full year ended Dec. 29, 2018, Kraft Heinz sustained a loss of $10,229 million, which compared with income of $10,999 million, equal to $9.03 per share on the common stock, in fiscal 2017. In the fourth quarter, Kraft Heinz sustained a loss of $12,608 million, which compared with income of $8,003 million, or $6.57 per share, in the same period a year ago.
Mr. Hees has been c.e.o. since 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway created the Kraft Heinz Co. in 2015 through the merger of Kraft Foods and H.J. Heinz. He had been with Heinz since 2013 and was previously c.e.o. of Burger King Worldwide, Inc.
“I want to personally thank Bernardo Hees for leading the company through its first phase,” said Marcel Herrmann Telles, a member of Kraft Heinz’s board of directors. “I’ve worked with Miguel over the course of the past 20 years, and he is a natural business leader. From attracting and nurturing the best talent to leading the turnaround of the AB InBev China business into the phenomenal success it is today, Miguel has one of the best brand-building minds in the industry.”
Mr. Patricio joins Kraft Heinz from Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), where he was most recently chief marketing officer of the beverage company since 2012. During his two decades with AB InBev, Mr. Patricio also was zone president of Asia-Pacific, zone president of North American and vice-president of marketing for the North America zone. Prior to AB InBev, Mr. Patricio was c.m.o. for Cervejaria Ambev and vice-president of marketing for Philip Morris International. Earlier in his career he was global marketing director for The Coca-Cola Co. and global marketing director for Johnson & Johnson.
“Miguel is a proven business leader with a distinguished track record of building iconic consumer brands around the globe, driving top-line revenue growth through a focus on consumer-first marketing, innovation, and people development,” said Alex Behring, chairman of Kraft Heinz’s board of directors. “I would like to thank Bernardo personally, and on behalf of the board, for his many contributions to Kraft Heinz over the last six years. He helped transform the food industry by leading the acquisition of Heinz in 2013 and the merger of Kraft and Heinz in 2015. Under Bernardo’s tenure, Kraft Heinz achieved industry-leading margins and sales performance in line with its U.S. peers, developed an organization with best-in-industry quality standards, and built in-house capabilities for category management, including revenue and assortment management. We appreciate his contributions.”
Mr. Hees will remain c.e.o. through June 30 to aid in the leadership transition.