SOURCE: Blue Ridge Farms

Blue Ridge Farms

November 09, 2009 14:28 ET

Blue Ridge Farms Appoints Mark Kleinman as CEO

Former ConAgra Foods' Hebrew National Leader Brings Deep Industry Experience, Vision to Premier Provider of Premium Salads, Entrees & Gourmet Specialty Foods

BROOKLYN, NY--(Marketwire - November 9, 2009) - Blue Ridge Farms today named Mark Kleinman as CEO. A veteran food industry and consumer products leader, Kleinman has driven strong growth at units of ConAgra Foods, Group Danone and other leading companies. The announcement was made by Marvin S. Sussman, who had served as interim CEO, and continues as Chairman of the premier provider of salads, entrees and other premium deli case products. Sussman's privately held Blue Ridge Foods, LLC acquired the company earlier this year.

As Executive Vice President and General Manager of ConAgra Foods' Hebrew National business unit, Kleinman grew sales by 50 percent, while nearly doubling profitability and expanding distribution at major retailers including Trader Joe's, Sam's Club, and Costco. At Group Danone, he established a strongly profitable Canadian subsidiary, and rapidly accelerated growth of venerable brands like Lea & Perrins, LU cookies, and Dannon Yogurt.

"Mark's broad experience, industry vision, hard-earned retail relationships and personal integrity make him the right leader for Blue Ridge Farms, at the right time," said Sussman. "We have pledged to serve and delight our longtime, loyal supermarket customers by exceeding their expectations for quality, innovation and service. We are laser-focused on helping them grow deli department traffic, volume and profits, and precisely what Mark has spent much of his career doing, across many categories."

Most recently, Kleinman founded and led Global Junction Group, a consultancy that helped mid-size companies develop long-term viable, yet quickly actionable growth plans. There, his plan to commercialize a revolutionary cooking technology for a global manufacturer led to contracts nearing $100 million. His brand and product innovation work for a national food and beverage manufacturer led to significantly increased distribution at Walmart.

Prior to that, Kleinman's global leadership of the Lamisil business for Novartis Group spurred the most comprehensive innovation agenda in the brand's history, with new delivery systems, female-focused SKUs and the launch of Lamisil Once around the world. The efforts jumpstarted growth of a $328 million product portfolio, marketed across 85 countries.

Kleinman's other big brand experience includes Hallmark Cards, where he spearheaded international expansion, and Kraft Foods, where he received the President's Award of Excellence during rapid ascension through the packaged foods leader's finance and marketing ranks.

Kleinman graduated cum laude with a BA in Economics from City University of New York, and earned graduate degrees in business from Cornell University's SC Johnson School and from NYU's Stern School of Business. He resides with his family in Scarsdale, New York.

About Blue Ridge Farms

For over 50 years, Brooklyn, NY-based Blue Ridge Farms has provided premium quality fresh foods to some of the world's most discerning consumers. Serving eastern USA markets from Maine to Florida, the Blue Ridge Farms product line includes refrigerated salads, entrees, side dishes and desserts. Its supermarket deli case-staple brands include Blue Ridge Farms, EZ Cuisine and Joshua's Kosher Kitchen. A New York tradition with scores of fans across the country, the company's fresh, prepared foods are distinguished by their highest quality ingredients and meticulous care in preparation. The result is consistently superior taste.

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