Company veteran Lars Ollberg returns to Rapala as CEO
Lars Ollberg, who retired from Rapala VMC only nine months ago, has returned to the company as Group President and CEO.
Ollberg’s appointment is one of three major changes at Rapala made in an announcement on Tuesday. Cyrille Viellard (pictured), Executive VP and head of Rapala’s hook business, becomes Deputy CEO from May 1st, while Jean-Philippe Nicolle (bottom), currently Executive VP and head of South European distribution, is appointed Chief Financial Officer.
Nicolle succeeds current CFO Jan-Elof Cavander, who will leave the Group on June 21st this year. Rapala has also revealed that Executive VP and head of Russian distribution, Victor Skvortsov, has resigned from the Global Management Team with immediate effect.
Before retiring, Lars Ollberg spent 44 years at Rapala after starting as a sales representative. As Director of Lines and Accessories, he was closely involved in the acquisition of Sufix in 2008 and relocated to Taiwan. He became Division Director, based in Hong Kong, in 2011 and then Division Vice President, Director of Distribution, in Asia Pacific in 2013. He was appointed Chief Operating Officer in 2017.
“I am greatly honoured and thrilled to come back to Rapala VMC,” said Ollberg, who starts his new position on May 1st. “I know its businesses and its ambitious team very well. I am grateful to get this opportunity to lead the Group.”
Welcoming Ollberg back top the company, Board Chairman Louis d’Alançon said: “Lars truly possesses the strong leadership skills, profound understanding of our business and the solid capabilities required to develop Rapala VMC further.”
It has been an eventful year for one of the industry’s very biggest corporations. Previous CEO Nicolas Warchalowski parted company with Rapala in November 2022 by ‘mutual agreement’ after little more than two and half years in the role. Since then, d’Alançon has filled the CEO position in an acting capacity.
Olli Aho, Head of Investor Relations, Secretary to the Board and the man who led multiple acquisitions during his 24 years with Rapala, also retired at the end of last year.
Rapala launched Okuma rods and reels in Europe in 2022 and, more recently, its northern European warehousing has been centralised in Pärnu, Estonia, with new production capacity being established as production was ramped down in Russia.
In February, Rapala’s reported full year sales and profit for 2022 had fallen by 7% and 53% respectively, with a sharp market contraction, strong restocking at retail, high inflation and the war in Ukraine blamed for the decline.
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