Van Houtte announces new leadership structure with appointment of Gerard Geoffrion as CEO

    Sylvain Toutant Appointed President, Retail to Expand Growth Outside
    Quebec; Jean-Yves Monette Becomes Chairman

    MONTREAL, July 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Van Houtte, one of North America's
leading gourmet coffee roasters, marketers and distributors, today announced a
new leadership structure with the appointment of Gerard Geoffrion, a 13 year
veteran of the company, as CEO. Mr. Geoffrion succeeds Jean-Yves Monette, who
becomes Chairman after serving as CEO since 2003.
    The company also announced that Sylvain Toutant, 45, is joining Van
Houtte as President, Retail whose mission will be to accelerate the deployment
of the Van Houtte brand in North America, chiefly outside Quebec.
    Michael I. Klein, a director of Van Houtte and President of Littlejohn &
Co., LLC, the principal private investor in Van Houtte, said of
Mr. Geoffrion's appointment, "We are very pleased with the continuity of this
management change given Gerard's previous key role within the company for more
than a decade. Gérard has excellent leadership capabilities and he has a
complete command of Van Houtte's North American strategic growth and
development strategy, which he played a central role in creating, and we are
confident that he will be able to carry it out successfully. As a member of
Van Houtte's senior leadership, Gérard led Van Houtte's expansion in the
coffee service business, notably through the acquisition and integration of
more than 200 businesses, and is largely responsible for Van Houtte's leading
position in the North American coffee service industry."
    Gerard, 55, most recently served as Executive Vice-President of Van
Houtte and began his career at the company in 1995. A trained engineer with an
MBA, he developed a solid track record in industrial processes, strategic
planning and mergers and acquisitions. He joined Van Houtte as Vice-President,
Corporate Development and was appointed Executive Vice-President shortly
    In his new role, Sylvain will oversee the sales to Grocery Retail, the
Roasting operations as well as the Bistros operations. Sylvain comes to Van
Houtte with a long and successful track record in the retail sector, as
President of the Réno-Dépôt chain and the Société des Alcools du Québec.
"Sylvain's retail experience and know-how complete the skill set of the Van
Houtte team," said the Company's new President and CEO, Gérard Geoffrion.
"Having him as part of our team will add momentum and reach to our brand in
North America."
    Jean-Yves, 63, becomes Chairman of the board of Van Houtte and is
stepping down from day-to-day responsibilities, after a career of nearly
40 years in the food industry, 20 of them as a manager in the coffee sector.
After joining Van Houtte as President of the Coffee group in 1994, he was
appointed President and CEO of the Company in July 2003. "In 14 years at Van
Houtte, Jean-Yves has made an immense contribution to the Company's growth and
performance," said Mr. Klein. "Under his leadership, Van Houtte's coffee
production volume has grown from 4 million to over 26 million pounds per year.
The outstanding brand image Van Houtte enjoys today is also largely his doing.
And in his new position, we're delighted to say, Jean-Yves will still be able
to give us the benefit of his tremendous experience and knowledge of the
coffee industry."

    About Van Houtte

    Founded in 1919, Van Houtte is one of North America's leaders in the
roasting, processing, marketing and distribution of high-quality coffees. The
Company roasts and processes fine coffees, which it markets in Canada and the
United States through distribution chains that include a coffee services
network, retail stores, a network of café franchises and services to online

For further information:

For further information: Gérard Geoffrion, President and CEO, Van Houtte
Group Inc., (514) 593-7711

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