Heinz Names Luz Third North America Chief in 7 Months

HJ Heinz Co. named Eduardo Luz as president of its North America division, shaking up management for the second time after Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and 3G Capital took over the ketchup maker.

Luz is replacing Brendan Foley, who is leaving, according to an e-mailed statement yesterday from Michael Mullen, a spokesman for Pittsburgh-based Heinz. Melissa Werneck was named senior vice president of global human resources, replacing Kristen Clark, who also is departing. Fernando Pocaterra, president of Latin America, is going as well.

Heinz Chief Executive Officer Bernardo Hees appointed Foley, Pocaterra and Clark to their posts in June as part of a broader management overhaul. The CEO has been on a cost-cutting drive, following the $29 billion acquisition in June by Jorge Paulo Lemann’s 3G and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire. Hees has cut jobs, announced plans to shut factories and changed policies to trim office expenses.

“These changes were made to better position the company for success in 2014 and beyond,” Mullen said in the statement. “Heinz thanks Mr. Foley, Ms. Clark and Mr. Pocaterra for their leadership and commitment.”

A successor for Latin America will be announced at a later date, Heinz said. Luz was previously managing director of Heinz’s North America consumer products business. Werneck joined Heinz in July and was senior vice president of performance and information technology, roles she will keep. David Moran, who left Heinz in the first round of senior leadership changes, was responsible for North America before Foley.

Grounding Jets

Hees, 44, has been retooling Heinz after firing managers and reducing costs at another 3G investment, Burger King Worldwide Inc., which he ran from 2010 until last year. The CEO has been pursuing cuts at the ketchup maker to speed decision making, boost margins and pay down debt supporting the takeover.

Heinz has grounded corporate jets, pulled the plug on mini fridges at the office and placed limits on color printing, Bloomberg News reported in September. The company said last month that severance costs would be about $300 million as Hees cuts 2,000 jobs.

Sales for the quarter ended Oct. 27 slipped 3.7 percent to $2.7 billion from a year earlier in part because of a decrease in volume in the U.S. and U.K., Heinz said last month. The company made a “strategic decision” to focus on improving its margins and limited the frequency and depth of sales promotions, Chief Financial Officer Paul Basilio said on a conference call.

Foley didn’t respond to an e-mail sent through his LinkedIn page. Mullen had no comment beyond the e-mailed statement.

“I realize change is difficult, and I thank you for your ongoing commitment,” Hees wrote in a memo to employees dated Jan. 10 that was obtained by Bloomberg News. “During times of transition, it is especially important that we all remain focused on the business.”

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.