MACDOUGALL’S PLANS TO FIX TIGER BRANDS
Tiger Brands’ results for the year to end September weren’t great and analysts worry that the food products giant is resting on its laurels. But new CEO Lawrence MacDougall is injecting some much-needed intensity and making his presence felt.
i would t be unfair to assign too much responsibility or credit to Tiger Brands CEO Lawrence MacDougall for the group’s results for the year to September.
Tiger Brands has been going since 1921 and his time in the CEO’s office since mid-May is just a momentary flash in its long history. It will take longer than that to make his mark on brands like Albany, Tastic, Jungle Oats, KOO, Black Cat and All Gold, which have taken nearly a century to build and maintain, or for him to find solutions to some more recent errors of judgment, particularly in the group’s Africa strategy.
Yet, by all accounts, he has made his presence felt.
Chief financial officer Noel Doyle, who acted as CEO since January following the resignation of Peter Matlare late last year, says MacDougall’s immersion in the group has been swift and noticeable. “What he has brought is an intensity around short interval measurement of performance, making sure we are not letting a day or week go past without improvements, otherwise competitors take the opportunities we open up.”
This is exactly what the group needs. Its biggest mistake in Africa, the investment in the Dangote Flour Mills in Nigeria, which resulted in a R2.8bn write-off (a heavy price for a R1.5bn acquisition some three years earlier), is behind it. It has also disposed of other investments in Africa, reducing MacDougall’s challenges on the rest of the continent. The group’s brands are ubiquitous, but their growth and development unexciting, and what the group needs, really, is some “intensity” and the injection of some energy and focus on performance.
It also desperately needs new ideas. Analysts have not been happy with its levels of innovation, feeling it has been resting on its laurels as a market leader in so many of its brand categories. Innovations mentioned in its latest results include Fatti’s & Moni’s launching instant noodles and Jungle adding single-serve Jungle cups, moves which appear to reflect it following already established trends rather than innovating itself. MacDougall says there have been small innovations but the group will work on big innovation projects. Its promised strategic review, announced earlier this year, is not yet concluded but is aimed at rejuvenating the domestic business, establishing a strong and profitable growth trend in the rest of Africa, restructuring and re-engineering the business to achieve a competitive cost base and provide savings for reinvestment and creating a competitive organisational structure. It is all a bit business jargon-heavy, but one gets the point. For frustrated shareholders, the review’s progress may seem a bit slow, but they may be comforted to know that MacDougall is not sitting around waiting for the outcome of the review before he acts. The review, says MacDougall, looks at the portfolio, costs and supply chain strategy, procurement and manufacturing and the operating model and organisational design – “and whether the group has the capability to execute its strategy correctly”. In the meantime, he has honed in on understanding the growth opportunities of each brand, has met investors and
Lawrence MacDougall CEO of Tiger Brands