James Lambert has stood down as chief executive of R&R Ice Cream, following the completion of PAI Partners’ acquisition of the Yorkshire-based firm from Oaktree Capital Management yesterday (July 16).
Lambert, who is one of the candidates to be crowned Personality of the Year at this year’s Food Manufacturing Excellence Awards (FMEA), will remain as chairman of R&R with Ibrahim Najafi being promoted to group ceo.
Najafi had been R&R’s ceo, Europe, since 2009, having joined the board in 2000. He also currently holds the role of chief operating officer.
“Ibrahim is one of the best managers in the food industry today and his skill, dedication and hard work have played a major part in R&R’s success to date,” Lambert said. “I could not be happier that I have such an able successor to continue to grow and lead such a fantastic and successful company.”
R&R was sold to PAI Partners for an undisclosed amount in May, with its senior management team continuing to lead the business.
Commenting at the time, Lambert said: “We are very excited to be partnering with PAI and working together on our next phase of development as we continue with our growth strategy across our brands.”
PAI Partners will support R&R through the next phase of growth, investing in the expansion of the firm’s industry footprint and consumer brands.
R&R supplies own-label ice cream across Europe. It also manufacturers Nestlé’s ice cream brands, Skinny Cow, Yoomoo frozen yogurt, Kelly’s of Cornwall and Disney.
In April R&R scooped up the Lancashire family-owned ice cream maker Fredericks in a £49M deal.
The Fredericks deal further enhanced the company’s branded offering, with the addition of brands such as Cadbury, Del Monte and Vimto.
Lambert said the deal would give R&R the “ammunition to compete” with Unilever’s mega-brands Magnum and Cornetto.
This was the latest in a string of acquisitions by Europe’s largest own-label manufacturer.
R&R acquired the Yoomoo frozen yogurt brand in January for an undisclosed sum, adding to its presence in France, Germany and Italy.
Personality of the Year
Lambert, one of the founders and directors since 1987, is one of six contenders – shortlisted by the Food Manufacture editorial team – to receive the Personality of the Year award at the FMEA.
The award celebrates the person that has done the most over the past year to raise the profile of the food and drink industry.
The other candidates are Dairy Crest chief executive Mark Allen, Coca-Cola Enterprises md Simon Baldry and Wyke Farms md Richard Clothier, chairman and chief executive of Nestlé UK and Ireland Fiona Kendrick and chairman of the House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group for Food Manufacturing John Stevenson MP.
You can have your say about who should win by visiting the FoodManAwards web site and voting.
The winner will be announced at a glittering awards dinner on Thursday November 21 at London’s Hilton Hotel in Park Lane.
The FMEAs – the awards that recognise the best of the best in food and drink manufacturing – are now open for entries.
The closing date for entries is Wednesday July 31 – good luck.