Summer 2010: Owen Killian, CEO, Aryzta

Business Person of the Month | Fri 2 Jul | Author – Business & Finance
Owen Killian

Killian has steered Irish and Swiss food group Aryzta to new heights after raising $120m on the stock exchange last month.

Irish and Swiss food group Aryzta has raised $120m through a placement of shares on the stock exchange this month, proving yet again that the company is at the forefront of its industry and showing huge potential at a difficult time.

At the heart of this success is CEO Owen Killian, who has steered the company to new heights since Aryzta was formed, through the merger of IAWS Group in Ireland and Switzerland’s Hiestand Holding AG in August 2008.

Difficult times

Aryzta has not been immune to the tough economic and consumer climate – as this month saw the company release a trading update that showed a 9% fall in sales in the nine months to the end of April compared to the same period one year earlier.

Total group revenue for the nine-month period was €2,.216bn, an 8.9% drop, although in the third quarter to the end of April, this rate of decline fell to 4.6%.


Aryzta also announced its agreement to acquire Fresh Start Bakeries (FSB) for a total consideration of $900m of which up to $140m may be paid for in Aryzta shares. Aryzta also announced this month the acquisition of Great Kitchens.

The new businesses generate annual revenue of $1.03bn and annual ebitda earnings of $133m against Aryzta’s 2009 revenue of €3.2bn and ebitda of €343m.

“From a business perspective, we will operate with a greater geographic footprint and with much better channel access to consumers,” said Killian. “These acquisitions double our manufactured volumes with an additional 30 production locations in nine countries.”

In 2008, Aryzta set out objectives to double its earnings base within five years. Killian said that the acquisitions represent “an important milestone for our shareholders on that journey”.


Killian said that while the decline in revenue had “improved dramatically”, European consumer markets remained particularly tough.

“Operators have gotten used to the environment. they’re putting a more appropriate product mix and selection in front of customers and we’re all working hard on making consistent product with a value offering available,” he said.

“That’s where any recovery is coming from, rather than any consumer recovery.”

Global player

Aryzta has operations in Zurich, Switzerland and Dublin and is the global player in speciality bakery with a geographic reach from North America through Europe to South East Asia and Australia. Some of its brands include Hiestand, Cuisine de France, Delice de France, Coup de Pates, La Brea Bakery and Otis Spunkmeyer.

Killian was appointed CEO of IAWS Group in 2003. He has held senior executive positions with IAWS Group since its flotation in 1988, having joined IAWS in 1977. He is also a non-executive director and chairman of Origin Enterprises plc, a leading player in the agri-nutrition sector in Ireland, UK and Poland.

IAWS enjoyed consistent double-digit growth over many years with profits up by 15.8% to €143m and revenue up 22.5% to €1.9bn in 2007. In the same year, the company made its largest ever acquisition with Otis Spunkmeyer and undertook the successful IPO of Origin Enterprises plc.

ARYZTA is now the majority shareholder in Origin Enterprises plc.

Aryzta: figures to chew on

  • A 9% drop in sales highlight a difficult climate in the global market.
  • Two major acquisitions will generate over $1bn in revenue for Aryzta.
  • $120m raised on stock exchange last month.

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Business & Finance, in association with MERC Partners, has been awarding excellence in business through the ‘Business Person of the Month’ award over the last number of years. These awards seek to recognise noteworthy achievements in business leadership, and particularly those that make a telling contribution to the wider business community in Ireland.