South African company Tiger Brands is to replace its chief executive officer CEO.

Tiger Brands is still involved in a class action lawsuit for its alleged role in the world’s largest-ever recorded Listeria outbreak in 2017 and 2018.

Following an annual review of the company’s strategy, the Board of Directors concluded that new leadership was required.

Noel Doyle will step down as CEO and executive director but remain available to Tiger Brands until March 2024 to facilitate the handover.

Tjaart Kruger has been appointed CEO and executive director of the company from November 2023 on a 26-month contract.

Kruger worked as managing director of the pharmaceutical and grains divisions from 2001 to 2007.

Tiger Brands said it would start a process to identify a successor for the CEO role to ensure an orderly transition at the end of Kruger’s tenure.

Doyle replaced Lawrence MacDougall in 2020. MacDougall has been at the helm of Tiger Brands since May 2016.

Tiger Brands said group operating income for the year ended Sept. 30, 2023, will end lower than the full year 2022. Good results from Beverages, Home and Personal Care, Tiger Food Services Solutions, Exports, and Deciduous Fruit were more than offset by poor performances in Rice, Bakeries, Groceries, and Snacks and Treats. Full results for the year ended Sept. 30, 2023, are expected to be released in December 2023.

Class action progress
The listeriosis outbreak began in 2017 and was officially declared over in September 2018, with 1,065 confirmed cases and at least 218 deaths. 

People contracted Listeria monocytogenes infections after eating a contaminated ready-to-eat meat product called polony, made at a factory in Polokwane by Enterprise Foods. At the time, Enterprise Foods was owned by Tiger Brands, but the business was sold in 2020.

The latest on the related class action is that Tiger Brands’ legal team and Richard Spoor have asked the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) for access to certain records. Richard Spoor and LHL Attorneys said the agency had agreed to provide the documents in July. The Seattle-based firm of Marler Clark LLP is a consultant for the case attorneys.

In previous statements, Tiger Brands said it was committed to ensuring that a resolution is reached in the shortest possible time in the interest of all parties, particularly the victims of listeriosis.

The first stage of the process will deal with liability. Damages would be handled at a second stage if the court finds the firm liable. No date has yet been set for the trial.

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