Kraft Foods Group Appoints Cahill CEO

Vernon retiring at end of December

John Cahill Tony Vernon Kraft (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Snacks / General Merchandise)

NORTHFIELD, Ill. -- Kraft Foods Group Inc. has named John Cahill, chairman of the board of directors, to the position of chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods. He will succeed Tony Vernon, who has informed the board of his intention to retire as CEO on Dec. 27, 2014, the last day of the company's fiscal year.

Vernon will stay on as a senior advisor through March 31, 2015, and as a director until the company's next annual meeting in 2015.

"Tony has been a passionate leader, and was instrumental in leading the creation of Kraft Foods Group two years ago as a result of the spinoff from Mondelez International Inc. He has championed culture, brand-building and innovation during his tenure, which has led to multiple successful new products and brand rejuvenations, and raised the bar on recruitment and talent development," Mackey J. McDonald, lead independent director of Kraft Foods Group, said. "With the company on solid footing after the spinoff, the time is right for new leadership to fulfill our potential as the industry leader. The board and Tony agree that we need to accelerate the pace of change."

Vernon, who will be 59 when he retires as a director, has served as CEO since the company's spinoff from Mondelez in October 2012. Prior to that, He was the company's executive vice president and president of Kraft Foods North America.

Tony Vernon, CEO of Kraft Foods Group, said, "It has been a privilege to lead Kraft and establish it as an independent company. It has been rewarding to see the team's many ideas bear fruit in the marketplace as together we launched an $18 billion startup with the soul of a powerhouse. As I've said before, the hallmark of every great company is that it makes the right adjustments at the right time," Tony Vernon, CEO of Kraft Foods Group, said. "I believe now is the right time to step back and devote time to the one thing I love more than our brands--my family. I leave knowing that we are on the right path with a strong leader in place ready to hit the ground running."

Cahill, 57, said, "I'm honored to be appointed CEO, and I'm excited to lead Kraft through the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Since the launch of Kraft, I have worked closely with the senior leaders of the company and its world-class brand portfolio. The industry is undergoing a great deal of rapid change, and it is important that we keep pace and indeed stay ahead of these changes as we build a stronger Kraft."

He continued, "While our immediate priority will be to remain focused on delivering results, we will also take a fresh look at the business to prioritize our investments and focus on sustainable profit growth."

Cahill joined Kraft on Jan. 2, 2012, as executive chairman designate, North American grocery, and became executive chairman at spinoff. He transitioned to a non-executive chairman role on March 8, 2014.

He spent nine years with Pepsi Bottling Group Inc., most recently as chairman and CEO, from 2003 to 2006, and executive chairman until 2007. Under his leadership, he and his team turned Pepsi Bottling into the leading bottler in the PepsiCo network, gaining market share in key regions, driving double-digit growth in international territories and improving sales execution and financial performance.

Until October 2012, Vernon was Kraft's executive vice president and president of Kraft Foods North America. Prior to joining Kraft in August 2009, he spent 23 years with Johnson & Johnson in a variety of leadership positions, most recently serving as company group chairman of DePuy Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, from 2004 to 2005.

Kraft Foods Group is one of North America's largest consumer packaged food and beverage companies, with annual revenues of more than $18 billion. The company's brands include Kraft, Capri Sun, Jell-O, Kool-Aid, Lunchables, Maxwell House, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia, Planters and Velveeta.