CHARLOTTE – Chiquita Brands announced Tuesday it is replacing CEO Fernando Aguirre as the company undergoes a major restructuring program designed to boost profits. This comes as the company is still in the process of relocating its headquarters to Charlotte.
Aguirre led the company's move to Charlotte and will stay on as CEO until the company's board can find a replacement, and the announcement could mean a smaller footprint in the Queen City.
Chiquita says it will slash at least $60 million in expenses in hopes of making its banana and salad businesses more profitable.
In the second quarter, the company recorded $6 million in net quarterly income, down sharply from $78 million during the same period last year.
Aguirre says the restructuring plan is the right thing to do for the company's balance sheet.
"Given this new strategic direction and the completion of the Charlotte relocation, both the board and I believe that now is the right time to transition the role of chairman and CEO,” he said. "The board has put in place a committee and hired a firm to do an external search."
The company says the restructuring plan will include job cuts, which should be complete by the end of next year. When it announced its move to Charlotte, Chiquita said it would invest $14 million in the city and would create 400 jobs.
The Charlotte Chamber issued a statement saying the $22 million in incentives paid to the company to bring its headquarters to Charlotte are performance-based. Chamber President Bob Morgan says if the jobs promised to Charlotte don't materialize then Chiquita won't get all the money.