(Jan. 14) CINCINNATI — Less than two years removed from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Chiquita Brands International Inc. has a new chief executive.

The Cincinnati-based fruit marketer and distributor Jan. 13 named Fernando Aguirre to the job.

Aguirre, 46, a native of Mexico City, who had been an executive on special assignment at Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co., will succeed Cyrus Friedheim, who had helped turn Chiquita around after it had emerged from bankruptcy in March 2002.

Friedheim, 68, will remain chairman of the company.

Aguirre was head of P&G’s feminine care business until September 2002, when the consumer products company restructured its divisions. He spent 23 years at that company.

“Fernando has the skills Chiquita needs to execute our strategy,” Freidheim said in a news release. “He has successfully built brands, increased sales and market share, reduced costs, built management teams, acquired and integrated companies, grown the bottom line and dealt with global trade and regulatory issues. He has significant experience in every geography important to Chiquita.”

Chiquita, under Freidheim’s stewardship, spent much of 2002 and 2003 refocusing itself, divesting many of its noncore assets and streamlining its core businesses.

Aguirre said that he wanted to continue that effort, focusing specifically on promoting the Chiquita brand.

“Certainly, one of the reasons the board hired me was to get the company much more developed in what I’m calling a marketing and consumer-centric approach,” Aguirre said. “What that means is to really learn how to take the insights from the consumers, learn how to translate that into the language and execution that is good for consumers and learn how to tie our technology, our products and our quality into language that is appealing and helpful to consumers. There’s some of that going on in the company, don’t get me wrong. But it certainly is a brand that has been underutilized.”

Aguirre earned his bachelor of science degree in business administration and marketing from Southern Illinois University. He serves on the board of directors for Univision Communications Inc. and as chairman emeritus of the corporate advisory board of the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

Chiquita installs CEO
Aguirre