Natalie Knight, an international financial executive with experience leading transformation at Arla Foods and helping the footwear company Adidas acquire rival Reebok, has been selected as the new chief financial officer of Ahold Delhaize.
Knight, who will also be nominated for a seat on the retailer’s management board, will succeed Jeff Carr, who last month announced plans to depart Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize upon the retailer’s annual meeting in April.
Knight is a U.S. native who holds a master of economics degree from the University of Berlin in Germany and a bachelor of business and German from the University of Arizona.
“I’m thrilled to have Natalie join Ahold Delhaize. She has worked in both the U.S. and Europe, across a variety of industries, including branded consumer goods and food products,” Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller said in a release. “With her broad experience across several finance areas, her commercial mindset and her demonstrated leadership in cost reduction and business transformation efforts, she is the right leader to help accelerate Ahold Delhaize’s Leading Together strategy. I look forward to working with her.”
Knight is currently CFO of Denmark’s Arla Foods, the international dairy cooperative, where she is leading a transformation and efficiency initiative known as Calcium. That program aims to reduce costs by more than $445 million, devoting three-fourths of the savings to improving milk price to its farmer-owners and the rest reinvested in the company’s growth, Arla said. Ahold Delhaize described Knight as “a finance leader who puts particular focus on commercial and cross-functional performance management,” helping Arla make substantial progress in the area of sustainability finance.
Knight joined Arla in January 2016 after 17 years with the German sportswear giant Adidas. There she held several financial roles, including investor relations and mergers and acquisitions, where she led the 2012 acquisition of Reebok. She then was CFO of Adidas North America, where she led major cross-functional cost reductions and operational transformation efforts, returning the company to record profitability after the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, Ahold Delhaize said. Knight was also SVP of group functions finance.
Knight joins Ahold Delhaize as the company is beginning to realize benefits of Muller’s Leading Together strategy to bring the financial strength from the merger with Delhaize to leading international supermarket brands, including U.S. retailers Stop & Shop, Giant/Martin’s, Giant Food, Hannaford and Food Lion, while investing behind digital transformation.
“I am excited to join Ahold Delhaize. With its Leading Together strategy and its brand-led model, I believe the company is well-positioned to thrive in this new era of digital transformation in the food retail industry,” Knight said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Jeff to ensure a smooth transition and support the company as it continues to win in its local markets.”
“I would like to welcome Natalie to Ahold Delhaize and look forward to nominating her to the management board,” said Jan Hommen, chairman of Ahold’s supervisory board. “I would also like to thank Jeff Carr for his distinguished service to Ahold Delhaize during the past eight years. During his tenure, he brought focus to both cost control and cash generation as well as financial leadership to both the acquisition of bol.com and the merger of Ahold and Delhaize. I wish him well in his future endeavors.”