Vintage Wine Estates hires consumer products supply chain leader as turnaround plan advances

Vintage Wine Estates Inc., producer of over three dozen alcohol brands such as B.R. Cohn and Ace Cider, has brought in a veteran overseer of global consumer goods production to fill a new leadership role as the Sonoma County-anchored company’s turnaround plan takes shape.

Farzana Shubarna fills a new role of vice president of operations, bringing “extensive international experience driving value creation from her strategic leadership roles in manufacturing, warehousing, sustainability programs and end-to-end supply chain operations for the fast-moving consumer goods and nutrition industries,” the 14th-largest U.S. wine company announced Tuesday.

Chief Operations Officer Zach Long noted that Farzana is expected to “drive increased efficiencies and best-in-class practices.” She previously was global director Center of Excellence for Unilever LTD

Farzana said in the news release that she expects to focus on improving efficiency and performance at three key production facilities: the Hopland winery in Mendocino County, the Ace cidery in Sebastopol and Meiers’ Wine Cellars, a custom vintner in Cincinnati acquired in January 2022.

“I believe my many years focused on production processes and supply chain best practices at multiple global industries can be applied at VWE to advance our efforts to improve productivity and cash generation,” Farzana said.

Shubarna previously was global director for Unilever Ltd.’s center of excellence in collaborative manufacturing, overseeing operational efficiency, digital transformation, and sustainability for the consumer goods giant’s network of contract manufacturing factories in Asia, the Americas and Europe.

Before Unilever, she was group supply chain director, DSM Nutritional Group; group supply chain director, Fragrance at International Flavors and Fragrances Inc.; regional director of logistics and third-party manufacturing (3PM), L’Oreal USA; and project manager, engineering manager and maintenance reliability engineer at Anheuser Busch Inc. USA.

Farzana’s hiring comes as Vintage Wine Estates since February has undertaken a “reorganization and simplification“ plan that as included a new CEO, cutting its workforce by 7%, slashing the number of product variations by 50% and increasing bottling throughput at the Hopland facility by 35%.

The company’s revenue last fiscal year, which ended June 30, was $283.2 million, down 3.3% over 12 months, and net loss expanded to $189.0 million, $400,000 in fiscal 2022. It produces about 2.2 million cases of wine, hard cider and other alcohol beverages annually.

In September, the company was warned by the Nasdaq exchange that its shares could be delisted if the stock price doesn’t rise above $1 by early 2024. The share price closed at 55 cents on Wednesday.

Incline Village, Nevada-based Vintage Wine Estates on Oct. 13 projected fiscal 2024 revenue of $260 million to $270 million. But new President and CEO Seth Kaufman on Nov. 14 tossed out that guidance, pending his 100-day review and plan for the business.

“While the business is beginning to stabilize, we still have much work to do. We will continue to execute the Five-Point Plan which defines our focus as we work through this transition year. We are intent upon driving improved cash generation, further simplifying the business, strengthening brand development and marketing, and increasing points of distribution,” Kaufman said in the announcement of fiscal first quarter results Nov. 14.

Shubarna earned a Bachelor of Engineering in chemical engineering with honors at Stevens Institute of Technology and an MBA in finance at Rutgers University. She speaks fluent Hindi, Japanese and Bengali, and achieved Six Sigma certification.

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