BUSINESS NEWS

Chobani Hires Former Juul CEO as President


Kevin Burns is rejoining Chobani as its new president and CEO.



Photo:

Guy Wathen/The San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

Chobani Inc.

hired former Juul Labs Inc. chief executive Kevin Burns as its new president and chief operating officer, according to an internal memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Burns, who worked at Chobani for several years before leading Juul, will report to the yogurt giant’s founder and CEO,

Hamdi Ulukaya.

Mr. Burns succeeds Peter McGuinness, who left Chobani last week to become chief executive of plant-based burger maker Impossible Foods Inc.

Chobani’s appointment of Mr. Burns followed several high-profile departures from the yogurt maker. Last week, the Journal reported Chobani Chief People Officer Grace Zuncic, Chief Strategy Officer Michelle Brooks and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Cristina Alesci were all leaving the company, in addition to Mr. McGuinness.

Chobani is in the process of preparing for an initial public offering and is expanding beyond its core Greek-style yogurt business into areas such as cold-brew coffee and oat-based milk alternatives.

Mr. Burns previously was president of Chobani from 2014 to 2016. Private-equity firm

TPG Inc.,

where Mr. Burns was a partner before joining Chobani, had taken a stake in the company in 2014 and exited its investment in 2018.

Chobani is in the process of preparing for an initial public offering and is expanding beyond its core Greek-style yogurt business.



Photo:

Stuart Ramson/AP Images for Chobani

Mr. Burns helped Chobani evolve from startup status to operating more like a large packaged food company, according to people who worked there at the time.

“That was another time of change and opportunity for Chobani, and we came out all the better for it,” Mr. Ulukaya said in the memo Thursday about Mr. Burns’s hiring.

Most recently, Mr. Burns was CEO of Alto Pharmacy, a San Francisco-based telehealth pharmacy. Before that, he was CEO of Juul Labs Inc., a post he resigned in 2019, after the e-cigarette company drew controversy over its marketing to young people.

Mr. Burns said in the memo to Chobani employees that he’s excited about rejoining the company. “I believe the company has just begun its transformation and category expansion that will fuel its growth over the coming years,” he said.

Write to Annie Gasparro at annie.gasparro@wsj.com and Corrie Driebusch at corrie.driebusch@wsj.com

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Appeared in the March 18, 2022, print edition as ‘Chobani Says Burns to Return As President After Stint at Juul.’



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