Maple Leaf Foods has announced that Geert Verellen has decided to step down as chief financial officer in early 2024. David Smales has been named his successor and will assume the role on Jan. 29.
“As we planned for this transition, finding the right successor for Geert was a critical priority for us,” said Curtis Frank, president and CEO. “Geert has made a significant impact over the last four years, including playing an important role in leading us through one of the most ambitious capital investment programs in our history. On behalf of the entire company, we thank Geert for his leadership and wish him all the best in the next phase of his career.”
Smales has decades of experience as a public company chief financial officer, including almost 15 years as executive vice president and chief financial officer at Aecon Group, Inc.
“David’s significant contributions to Aecon during his 14-year tenure have been critical to the company’s success,” said Jean-Louis Servranckx, president and CEO of Aecon Group Inc., announcing the decision. “David was instrumental as Aecon navigated through a transformative year in 2023 with three strategic transactions that increased focus on long-term growth sectors, established partnerships with value-creating partners for Aecon Utilities and the Bermuda International Airport, and significantly strengthened Aecon’s balance sheet.
“These transactions were completed in conjunction with the substantial progress made on four legacy projects nearing completion, including significant cash flow-enhancing settlements on each project that will continue to have a positive impact in the years to come,” he added.
Before his role at Aecon, Smales was the chief financial officer at Catalyst Paper Corporation. He also has decades of international and transactional experience at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Novar PLC.
Moreover, he has experience overseas. Smales is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in England.
“In our search for a new CFO, we actively sought someone with David’s breadth of experience, blending strong financial acumen with long-term strategic planning skills and a deep understanding of Canadian capital markets,” Frank said. “We are thrilled that David will be joining our senior leadership team, and we are certain he will be a great addition to Maple Leaf Foods as we execute our strategic blueprint on the journey to becoming the most sustainable protein company on earth.”