European frozen food giant Nomad Foods, the owner of brands including Birds Eye and Findus, has appointed Steve Challouma CMO, a move that sees him return to marketing after three years as general manager of Birds Eye’s UK and Ireland business.
Challouma, who also joins the executive committee with his latest move, has worked in frozen food for more than 25 years and has “extensive experience” in the Nomad Foods business and its brands, having joined the company in 2006.
In his previous role as general manager, he was responsible for the Birds Eye, Aunt Bessie’s and Goodfella’s brands, as well as its private label business, which together have an estimated retail sales value of £800m.
During his time leading the business, much of which was during the pandemic, Birds Eye attracted millions of additional customers. Approximately 2.4 million extra people bought into the Birds Eye brand during the first four weeks of the spring lockdown in 2020.
Prior to managing the overall business, Challouma spent nearly three years as marketing director of these brands, during which he overhauled Birds Eye’s marketing strategy to add greater focus on both creativity and effectiveness.
As part of this revamp he instigated a shift from a master brand to pillar brand strategy, which he said at the time allowed the business to “unshackle” its brands.How Birds Eye is measuring ‘return on creative investment’
This approach led to “some quite dramatic decisions”, including the call to bring back a more modern version of Captain Birds Eye in 2019 and dropping Aunt Bessie’s brand characters following its acquisition by Nomad Foods in 2018.
Challouma originally joined Birds Eye Wall’s as a Unilever graduate trainee before moving into his first marketing role in 2002. From there he worked his way up through various UK and European marketing, commercial and category management roles, moving with the brand when it was sold by Unilever to private equity firm Permira in 2006. At this point Iglo Group was formed, which was later acquired by Nomad Foods in 2015.
In his new role as CMO, Challouma reports directly to CEO Stéfan Descheemaeker.