American Seafoods Group, one of the largest at-sea processors of Alaska pollock and Pacific hake in the world, announced it has appointed Einar Gustafsson to take over as CEO from Mikel Durham.
The company announced the shift on 18 February, as Durham announced she was stepping down and that was looking forward to “taking a break and spending time with family.” Durham was hired in 2016 and helped turned around the company's operations after previous debt issues. She also led the company as Bregal sought a suitor for its stake – an effort that has thus far been unsuccessful.
“Einar brings to American Seafoods proven senior leadership and exceptional strategic capabilities in developing and growing worldwide seafood and fresh foods businesses,” said Scott Perekslis, a member of the American Seafoods board of directors and managing partner of Bregal Partners – a private equity firm that led a recapitalization of American Seafoods in 2015. “Einar’s track record of success in building international brands will be vital, as he leads American Seafoods through this next chapter of growth.”
Along with the appointment of Gustafsson, the company announced that Inge Andreassen, an American Seafoods employee with 30 years of experience at the company, has been promoted to the position of COO. Andreassen will serve as American Seafoods’ acting CEO until Gustafsson’s appointment is completed, a release from the company said.
Gustafsson most recently served as the CEO, Americas and Europe, for Gong Cha – an international bubble tea brand – where he spearheaded efforts to scale the brand in the Americas and expand its presence in Europe. Before that, he was the managing director at Bakkavor Asia, leading that company’s USD 2 billion (EUR 1.8 billion) entry into Asian markets.
His past seafood experience includes serving as the vice president and general manager at American Pride Seafoods – a former division of American Seafoods – and as the president and CEO of Atlantic Coast Fisheries Corporation.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to lead American Seafoods – with its impressive heritage and history – into a new era of growth. Wild-caught Alaska pollock and Pacific hake present delicious and great value protein offerings that sustainably feed the world, with strong demand and an appeal that truly crosses cultures and palates among consumers worldwide,” Gustafsson said. “It is especially rewarding for me to return to my roots in the seafood industry and rejoin American Seafoods to partner with Inge Andreassen, who will serve as our president and COO.”
Andreassen joined American Seafoods in 1992, and has served as the president of American Seafoods Company since 2005.
“The seafood industry and American Seafoods has been a huge part of my career. I am so invigorated with this new opportunity, as American Seafoods is in a strong position with terrific growth opportunities ahead,” Andreassen said. “Einar shares the same passion for the business as I do, and this great partnership will have far-reaching impact for American Seafoods and our workforce in this exciting next chapter for the company.”
Photos courtesy of American Seafoods