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.

Finweek English Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Mar­cia Klein

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.

Strate­gic re­view

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

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