By Richa Naidu
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Kraft Heinz Co <KHC.O> on Wednesday named Campbell Soup Co <CPB.N> executive Carlos Abrams-Rivera president of its U.S. business, the Heinz ketchup maker’s latest executive hire as it aims to revitalize its business after a troubling year.
New Kraft Heinz Chief Executive Miguel Patricio had been managing the Chicago-based company’s U.S. business since he took over in July. The unit, which makes Oscar Mayer bacon and Velveeta cheese, is Kraft Heinz’s biggest contributor to sales.
Abrams-Rivera, 52, has previously worked at Kraft Heinz and Mondelez International Inc <MDLZ.O> and will start his new role at Kraft Heinz on Feb. 3. Most recently, Abrams-Rivera managed Campbell’s snacks division.
Kraft Heinz will share details about Abrams-Rivera’s U.S. strategy in the first quarter, Patricio said in an interview.
He said the company plans to invest more in media – which includes advertising, brand development and packaging – but declined to say how much it would spend this year.
Analysts and investors have criticized Kraft Heinz for underinvesting in branding, advertising and innovation at a time when grocers like Walmart <WMT.N> and Kroger <KR.N> are aggressively making cheaper own-brand products similar to those made by Kraft Heinz.
Over the past year, Kraft Heinz has withdrawn its full-year outlook, written down the value of several key brands and assets by more than $15 billion, and struggled to overcome competition from retailers’ private-label brands.
It also disclosed in February that it had been subpoenaed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over an investigation into its accounting practices.
Aiming to revitalize Kraft Heinz, Patricio, a veteran marketing executive, was brought in from Anheuser-Busch InBev <ABI.BR>. Since Patricio’s move was announced in April, Kraft Heinz’s Chief Marketing Officer Eduardo Luz has stepped down and is yet to be replaced. The company’s head of finance David Knopf has also left, and earlier this week, Kraft Heinz named Flavio Torres its new head of global operations.
Shares of the company, down 36% since it announced a major writedown and the SEC investigation in February, were down about 1% in afternoon trading.
(Reporting by Richa Naidu; editing by Nick Macfie, Nick Zieminski and Bernadette Baum)