Former Molson, Dollarama exec to lead Agropur

Major dairy co-operative Agropur has found its new chief executive sitting on its own board of directors.

The Montreal-based co-op on Wednesday named Robert Coallier, a former executive with Molson Coors and Dollarama, as its new CEO effective Feb. 27. He replaces Pierre Claprood, who retires effective March 1 after eight years as CEO and 30 years with the company. 

The co-operative, which has run an executive screening process over the past six months, has for the past two years has Coallier as a "guest member" of both its board of directors and the board’s audit committee.

Coallier, who has an MBA from Concordia University and a bachelor’s degree from McGill, was most recently senior vice-president and chief financial officer with Montreal-based dollar-store operator Dollarama from 2005 to 2009, helping set up the company’s initial public offering.

During his tenure with Molson, in part during its merger with Coors Brewing, Coallier served as CEO of Molson’s Brazilian subsidiary Cervejarias Kaiser (2002-04), as Molson’s executive vice-president for corporate strategy and international operations (2004-05) and as the company’s global chief development officer (2005).

Agropur board chairman Serge Riendeau hailed Coallier’s "remarkable career in the fields of finance, management and global markets" and "keen sense of organization and his ability to optimize resources."

The board, Riendeau, is "convinced" Coallier will "effectively guide our co-operative through the next phase of its growth and expansion, and that Agropur will achieve new objectives under his direction."

Owned by over 3,400 dairy farmer members, Agropur operates 27 plants in Canada, the U.S. and Argentina and booked $3.345 billion in sales in fiscal 2010. The company processed over three billion litres of milk that year for dairy and cheese brands including Natrel, Quebon, Oka, Island Farms, La Lacteo, Yoplait, Schroeder and Sealtest.

The company has grown largely through acquisitions in recent years and began buying smaller U.S. cheese and dairy processors starting in 2004.

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