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Beyond Meat’s New CFO, Executive Shakeup a Move to Repair Reputation and Finances

The plant-based food company promoted Lubi Kutua to the CFO role, but he faces an uphill battle.
Beyond Meat’s New CFO, Executive Shakeup a Move to Repair Reputation and Finances
Photo: Uladzimir Zuyeu

 

After seeing its stock price fall 88% in just over a year, Beyond Meat has juggled both financial and public relations challenges, as the plant-based “meat” company is in the midst of an overhaul in leadership. These changes are likely spurred in part by both public embarrassments as well as financial struggles. 

In an incident following a University of Arkansas football game, Doug Ramsey, the company’s COO, was arrested after allegedly punching through the window of another man’s vehicle and reportedly “bit the owner’s nose.” Ramsey has left the COO role as of Oct. 14 and, according to his LinkedIn profile, is taking a “career break.” 

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Meanwhile, in a less licentious pivot, Philip Hardin, CFO only since July 2021, is stepping away from the company to pursue other opportunities. In Hardin’s short tenure with the company, Beyond continued its downward trajectory in the market. Stepping into CFO role is Lubi Kutua, most recently Beyond’s VP of FP&A as well as investor relations. Kutua’s promotion to CFO and treasurer was effective Oct. 13.

Ramsey’s departure coincides with Beyond Meat announcing layoffs amidst slowing demands for their products. According to a company release from October 14, the company is axing open executive positions and releasing 19% of its workforce, cutting approximately 200 jobs.  

CEO Ethan Brown spoke about the layoffs in the company release. “While we believe the current headwinds facing our business and category — including record inflation — are transient, our mission, brand, and long-term opportunity endure. To manage through the current environment and realize the opportunity ahead, we are significantly reducing expenses and sharpening our focus on a set of key growth priorities.”

Brown seemed to cast blame on the company’s slumping performance on outside factors, displaying confidence the layoffs will assist the company’s goal to get back on track towards growth. “The global climate crisis underway dictates greater, not less, urgency in the adoption of all solutions of which ours is among the most immediate and powerful,” said Brown.

 “We believe our decision to reduce personnel and expenses throughout the company, including our leadership group, reflects an appropriate right-sizing of our organization given current economic conditions,” he said. “We remain confident in our ability to deliver on the long-term growth and impact expected from our global brand.”

Beyond Meat has seen troubles with their finances for several years now. After strong interest at the company’s IPO in 2019, which saw a 160% rise on the first day of offerings, it reported larger than expected losses in Q2 of that year, resulting in a sharp decline up until January 2020. After hovering around $150 a share up until late 2020 and early 2021, the company has been in a sharp decline since last July. As of October 17, Beyond Meat is trading at just over $13 a share. 

The company has projected Q3 2022 net revenues of approximately $82 million, a decrease of approximately 23% versus the prior-year. Beyond Meat expects full year 2022 net revenues to be in the range of approximately $400 million to $425 million, representing a decrease of approximately 14% to 9% compared to the full year 2021.

Layoffs and tighter budgets are expected to save Beyond Meat $39 million, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. It will have a one-time cost of $4 million to pay off employee severances and benefit packages.

By reducing expenses to strengthen cash flows, the company is looking to put its financial woes behind them. As for the PR side of things, it’s safe to say the company is distancing itself from the incident involving their former COO to nose upward in the coming quarters.