Lamb Weston Names John Hatto Senior VP for Strategy and Growth

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John Hatto has been promoted to the position of senior vice president of strategy and growth at Lamb Weston, the Eagle, Idaho, USA-headquartered frozen potato products specialist. With more than 30 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, he most recently led he company’s distributor sales team as vice president of sales for the foodservice business unit. 

Since being hired by Lamb Weston in 2015, Hatto has played a leading role in major initiatives focused on capturing share growth. Prior to joining the company he worked for PepsiCo’s foodservice division for more than 10 years in a variety of sales leadership roles, most recently as vice president of sales strategy.

“I’m looking forward to John taking this new role on our executive team,” said President and CEO Tom Werner. “Since joining Lamb Weston, he has been instrumental in driving growth in our foodservice business unit. John will now have the opportunity to drive similar growth across the company as he focuses on our broader long-term strategic and growth initiatives.”

Q2 Sales Results Show 12% Drop

Earlier this month the company reported that fiscal second quarter sales declined $123.1 million to $896.1 million, down 12 percent versus the prior year quarter. Volume fell 14 percent, predominantly reflecting decreased demand for frozen potato products outside the home following government-imposed restrictions on restaurants and other foodservice operations aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, as well as the effect of colder weather, which limited outdoor dining traffic across many regions of the United States. 

Net income declined $43.5 million to $96.9 million, primarily reflecting a drop in receipts from operations, partially offset by an increase in equity method investment earnings.

Looking ahead, Werner commented: “We are optimistic that the availability of Covid-19 vaccines will enable a gradual return to normalcy as the year progresses, but we expect to continue to face difficult and volatile operating conditions until the virus is broadly contained. Specifically, we expect demand will remain soft in the coming months, especially at full-service restaurants, as governments continue to impose broad social restrictions and as colder weather limits outdoor dining. That said, we expect demand at quick service restaurants and at retail outlets to offset some of that weakness.”

He continued: “Despite these near-term pressures, we believe that restaurant traffic may approach pre-pandemic levels later this calendar year if vaccines and other measures are successful in helping to broadly contain the virus and restrictions on restaurants and other venues are lifted to permit a large-scale return to on-premise dining. In the meantime, our business fundamentals – pricing, capacity utilization, and potato supply – remain solid, and we continue to manage through the pandemic’s impacts on our manufacturing operations. We believe our recently announced increase in our quarterly dividend and the planned resumption of our share repurchase program reinforce our conviction in the long-term strength of the category and our business, as well as our ability to support customers and create value for our stakeholders.”