CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The announcement this week that Chiquita Brands International will change its strategy, reduce its staff and replace its CEO might be unsettling for its new headquarters city but the outgoing CEO said it’s all for the best. The changes comes at a time when the company reports both falling revenue and profit.
“The decisions about the company have to be about the overall company not about any single individual. None of us -- including myself -- are indispensable,” said Fernando Aguirre.
Aguirre said his area of expertise is brand marketing and research and development. The future strategy of Chiquita focuses less on those areas and more on increasing the volume of fruit sold while reducing cost. Consumers may see the company sell more private labels.
“My expertise was already executed during the years I’ve been here and I believe there’s people out there who will be better than I would at executing that strategy,” said Aguirre.
He also said that he began thinking about moving on two years ago but the board asked him to stay. And when he began working on the move to Charlotte he wanted to see it through.
It’s nearly complete. The company has spent between $13 and $14 million outfitting four of the six stories they will occupy in the NASCAR office tower in uptown Charlotte. 158 people from the Charlotte area have been hired. 104 have moved from the company’s former headquarters in Cincinnati and 50 others will be here by the end of September.
The $22 million worth of incentives that Charlotte and the state of North Carolina provided to bring the company here are all tied to a specific number of people being hired and paid a certain amount.
“So in the first three months of the move we have met the commitments which makes me feel good,” Aguirre said.
He added that it could be a matter of weeks or months before a new CEO is hired. He will be paid to remain with the company for a year as a consultant to the new leader.