Sixty-two-year-old Johannesen announced more than a year ago that he would be planning to step down in spring of next year, following a total of 45 years in the business. He started his career at the age of 18 as a trainee clerk at a slaughterhouse in Hurup, northern Jutland.
Following this, he took over as CEO of the slaughterhouse business Wenbo, also in northern Jutland in 1988. Two years later Danish Crown began joining with other Danish slaughterhouse businesses. After merging with Vestjyske Slagterier in 1998 and later with Steff-Houlberg in 2001, Danish Crown became one of Europe’s leading food companies.
Johannesen’s main focus for the past 15 years has been on the international development of the company. After a series of strategic acquisitions in several countries, Danish Crown now considers itself to be a significant global player. It is currently the world’s largest pork export business.
“Kjeld Johannesen is a unique leader who has worked hard over the years to bring together the entire value chain, and very successfully so. He has very much had the interests of the owners at heart, while at the same time focusing on developing the group’s increasingly international sales. Among business leaders, Kjeld Johannesen is distinguished by his extremely detailed knowledge of all aspects of the business,” explained chairman of the board of directors, Erik Bredholt.
To ensure the transition is as fluent as possible, Johannesen’s successor, Jais Valeur, who comes from a position as executive vice-president of Arla Foods, will take up the position of group CEO by mid-November.
Speaking of Valeur’s appointment, Bredholt said: “Jais Valeur possesses in-depth knowledge of international sales – as well as a keen understanding of an ownership structure in which the group’s owners are also the suppliers of its raw materials. We are convinced that he is the right person to take over from Kjeld Johannesen.”