December 3, 2019 / 3:34 PM / 11 days ago

South Africa’s Taste Holdings loses second CEO this year as focus shifts to luxury

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 3 (Reuters) - South African retail and quick service restaurants company Taste Holdings said on Tuesday its group chief executive Dylan Pienaar would step down with immediate effect, sending its shares lower.

The current head of Taste’s luxury food division, Duncan Crosson, has been appointed as the new group CEO with immediate effect. Crosson will be Taste’s third CEO this year with Pienaar only appointed in March.

The group said in a statement that Pienaar’s decision to step down was a result of Taste’s strategy to focus on its luxury jewellery brands NWJ, Arthur Kaplan, and World’s Finest Watches.

The group’s shares were 20% lower at 4 cents a share by 1700 GMT.

Taste said last month that it would sell its Starbucks and Domino’s Pizza franchises in South Africa, retreating from a food industry that has been hard hit by the sluggish local economy. It has already sold 13 Starbucks stores to a consortium for 7 million rand.

Taste hopes to return to profitability within a year as a result of the restructuring plan, having faced declining revenues as high unemployment rates depressed retail sales. (Reporting by Naledi Mashishi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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