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July, 2024

Chobani GMs of demand and growth exit, newly installed MD unwraps new-look strategy – with profit powering purpose

What you need to know:

  • Chobani’s recently installed MD ANZ, Scott Hadley, is putting his emphasis on expanding the company’s market reach and shoring up sustainable profitability and growth.
  • He’s restructuring his leadership team, returning to a dedicated GM of marketing and a dedicated GM of sales, plus a newly created GM of science and innovation.
  • The roles replace a structure that’s been in place in 2021, when Chobani introduced a GM of demand to oversee marketing, sales and category in one unit; as well as a GM of growth to drive rapid-fire innovation through a new division encompassing product engineering, food technology, finance, insights, product, new product development, project management and packaging.
  • The new-look structure follows the departure of GM of demand in recent months, plus the exit of GM of growth, Olivia Dickinson, last week.

Chobani’s local GMs of demand and growth have both departed and a restructuring of the yoghurt business is underway to shift from category-busting innovation towards improving operations and expanding product portfolio accessibility. More sustainable profit and growth is the mantra for MD Scott Hadley, who landed the top job two months ago.

Hadley’s now on a mission to expand the company’s market reach through more channel penetration as well as by reinforcing its impact. To do this, he’s turning his attention towards growth at both ends of the balance sheet.

Realignment of structure against this strategy has been indirectly enabled through senior leadership exits from Chobani Australia in recent months. The latest is GM of growth, Olivia Dickinson, who pulled up stumps last week. Dickinson took up the role three years ago with a remit to spearhead product innovations and business evolution.

It was a move designed to kickstart growth in the local market, which had started to stagnate in 2020 after an initial fast-growth spurt for Chobani. As GM of growth, Dickinson led a growth team consisting of specialists across operations to product engineering, food technology, finance, insights, product, new product development, project management and packaging. Chobani also established a ‘growth council’ to pitch new ideas to senior leadership at the same time.

At the same time as setting up the growth function, Chobani’s GM of marketing position was replaced with a GM of demand, taking in an extended remit across marketing, sales and category. This role was held by Julia Clark until her departure from Chobani in April after a 12-year tenure. Clark has since taken up a management consulting position with Quest Worldwide.

The revised structure, introduced in 2021, was overseen by former local MD, Lyn Radford, who left Chobani last October to take up the MD’s post at McCain Australia.

Yet all this is now being rethought under Hadley, who took over as Chobani Australia MD in April after a 25-year career across numerous FMCG Australian businesses. Among these are TasFoods, Fosters Group, GlaxoSmithKline and Cadbury Schweppes. Hadley sits on Chobani’s global executive leadership team, reporting to Kevin Burns, Chobani President and Chief Operating Officer. Chobani founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, remains its global CEO.

Top of the priority list for Hadley is expanding Chobani’s market reach. “We have developed excellent relationships with Coles and Woolworths, and I’m now focused on getting Chobani and Gippsland Dairy into more channels,” he told Mi3. “I want our products to be in every fridge, everywhere, every day.”

At the same time, Hadley’s focus is on running he business “effectively and efficiently, ensuring our products are accessible to our consumers in Australia and New Zealand, and that our growth is healthy and sustainable”.

To help achieve this, Hadley is re-introducing a dedicated GM of marketing position, focused on enhancing brand awareness and perception. He’s also returning to a dedicated GM of sales role to focus on broadening distribution channels.

Following the decision to cull the GM of growth, Chobani is instead creating a GM of science and innovation, tasked with spearheading product development but arguably with less emphasis on category-busting launches and more emphasis on innovating within Chobani’s core product portfolio. It’s worth noting Chobani’s former head of new product and packaging, John Williams, also left in May after more than nine years working across marketing, new products and innovation to become R&D manager at McCain Foods.

“This alignment will ensure a cohesive approach to market growth and product innovation,” per Hadley. “Food is what we do, it’s what we’re passionate about. Introducing a GM of science and innovation role is crucial for Chobani Australia’s growth trajectory. This position will focus on driving scientific research, product innovation and ensuring our offerings meet the highest standards of quality and nutrition. Given our maturity and the evolving consumer demand for healthier and innovative products, this role will be pivotal in maintaining our market leadership and expanding our product portfolio in line with emerging trends, consumer needs and developments in food science.”

Continuing to focus on our foundations and core business will ensure we maintain sustainable growth and support our expanded product range that consumers love.

Scott Hadley, MD ANZ, Chobani

Chobani has certainly had a busy few years extending its portfolio and reach into new categories. Among successful innovations are the Chobani No Sugar Added range added in early 2023, as well as relaunch of its Chobani FIT range, which has driven 41 per cent growth in high protein results in the year to date, said Hadley.  

“We’ve seen an increase in at-home consumption, likely driven by cost-of-living, driving purchase in our multi-serve tubs,” he continued. “The high protein segment has been growing steadily since 2019.”

As Dickinson told Mi3 in a recent interview, the growth team has also enabled Chobani to improve its agility around launching new products to market, with some debuting in as little as 20 weeks – three times faster than previously.

“Driving diversity and innovation remains a core focus of our strategy. The yoghurt category is dynamic, and consumers have wide and varied tastes, so we need to continue to ensure that Chobani and Gippsland Dairy products meet consumer needs and expectations,” said Hadley. “We have seen fantastic growth and diversification through products like No Sugar Added line and our expansion into New Zealand.”

Yet it now appears Chobani is putting its emphasis on the latter, shoring up a period of innovation that’s seen it extend to more than 80 product SKUs in ANZ and instead turn its attention to the foundations of supply chain, distribution and in-product range growth.

“Continuing to focus on our foundations and core business will ensure we maintain sustainable growth and support our expanded product range that consumers love,” he added.

Hadley sums up success as a combination of top-line growth and sustainable profitability: “These are essential to the future growth and development of Chobani Australia and New Zealand. The more growth we achieve, the more we can fulfil our purpose: To make a difference using food as a force for good.”

Meanwhile, Dickinson is shortly to announce a new role in the FMCG sector. In all, she spent more than seven years with Chobani, first joining as digital and communications brand manager. She quickly moved up to digital marketing manager, then digital transformation leader for sales and marketing, and finally GM of growth.

“While the hardest part of leaving a place where you’re so driven by the vision, passionate about the brands and our products, is saying goodbye, I have realised the most important part is the journey. And what a journey it’s been,” Dickinson commented on LinkedIn. “We’ve ridden the crazy highs, made some mistakes, had some fun, and done a lot of good along the way.”