Improved financial predictability with Helene B. Francke as interim CFO at Nutrimar

When Frode Sandmark, Chief Investment Officer at Kverva, decided to hire an interim CFO for Nutrimar – the Frøya-based producer of fresh salmon oil, salmon flour and hydrolyzed protein concentrate of salmon by-products, he was actually an interim CEO himself. At Nutrimar, that is.

Could location and urgency become an obstacle?

– We knew that we needed to strengthen the leadership side of the finance department, but we were also aware that the remote location at the island of Frøya and the short timeline potentially could prevent us from securing the kind of senior candidate we envisioned. I aired our needs within my own network, and quickly received a tip about Interimleder AS, says Frode Sandmark  - Chief Investment Officer in Kverva and Interim CEO of Nutrimar.

Interimleder AS initially received a brief description of the situation. After a day or two, they started to map out what type of profile – and what characteristics best would match their needs.

– Senior Adviser, Narve Karlsen at Interimleder AS, is very good at not only understanding the company and its needs, but also at identifying aspects – that we may not have thought of ourselves – that were crucial for an interim manager to be successful in the assignment, Sandmark adds.

Quick and smooth process

The fact that Nutrimar needed an interim CFO, who could lead with a sturdy hand, quickly became clear to senior adviser at Interimleder AS, Narve Karlsen. And after the needs were identified, the process went as smoothly as it went quickly.

– The assignment brief was completed and sent out on the 14th of February. The next day we interviewed several interesting candidates and sent the curriculums of a chosen few over to Nutrimar. On the 18th of February, relevant candidates were interviewed by Kverva and Nutrimar, and we referenced the strongest candidates until the 24th of February, focusing on not only results, but also personal characteristics. The contract was signed on the 27th of February, with the chosen interim CFO starting on the 1st of March.

Highly experienced CFO

Helene B. Francke, former CFO of Franzefoss and Termowood, was identified as the right candidate for the assignment.

Francke is an experienced CFO and is known for being agile and a problem solver, structured and analytical – homing in on strategic business development, which also makes her a solid business partner.

– Helene had a very good match, especially on qualities that I considered critical to us in the situation. An interim CFO who´s not afraid to restructure and lead with a firm, yet fair hand. She managed to analyze the situation well from day one and was able to put the wheels in motion for change straight away, Sandmark says.

– Some people thrive on simply managing – I get more triggered by the opportunity to contribute, change, and create

Even before Francke learned who the client was, it became apparent that both her background and personality would be a solid match.

– When I reviewed the brief, which depicted a hands-on CFO within the industry and food sector, and was presented with tasks such as re-structure and turn-around, I thought, "This is me!" After many years at Franzefoss, with acquisitions and coordination of businesses, I was confident that this is something I am both good at and like doing. Some people thrive on simply managing, while I get more triggered by the opportunity to contribute, change, and create, Francke states.

The interim manager, who now commutes from Oslo to Frøya to be as hands-on as possible, quickly got the finance department up on its feet, and after just a few months the company had a more predictable reporting and improved auditability.

Nutrimar and Sandmark are very pleased with the choice of interim manager. The assignment, which was to last from the 1st of March to the 31st of August 2021, was quickly extended to the 31st of March 2022.

­­– I think it´s important to establish good and lasting routines and systems that the company can thrive on over time. It's not difficult to enter a company and turn everything upside down – but what good does that do if everything unravels as soon as you walk out the door? The goal should be predictability and long-term, Francke concludes.

About Nutrimar:

  • Nutrimar is a producer of sustainable feed ingredients, producing fresh salmon oil, salmon flour and hydrolyzed protein concentrate, among other things. In addition, the company operates in the field of by-products from chicken and activity in the field of harvesting and processing of Stortare (seaweed).
  • The products are sold as important ingredients to the American and European animal feed markets (PetFood), European producers of fish feed and global agricultural feed players.
  • The processing plant is located in the immediate vicinity of SalMar's salmon processing plant on the island of Frøya, Norway.
  • 68 employees in Norway.
  • 2020 Turnover ­- NOK 230 million.
  • 100% owned by Kverva.

Situation and challenge:

  • In early 2021, there was an urgent need to strengthen the management side of the financial department at Nutrimar.
  • The company experienced growing pains and needed someone who could come in with an experienced, systematic and steady hand, and establish professional financial routines – quickly.
  • Particularly predictable reporting, detailed month-end closings and the systems had major shortcomings.

Solution and results:

  • Hire an interim CFO with senior experience, a hands-on approach and availability to commute to the says Frøya-based production site.
  • Improvement of financial structures, routines, systems and organization was given first priority.
  • After a few months, the finance department and the company gained confidence in the new routines that provided more predictable reporting and improved auditability.
  • A new internal system for finances was mapped and will be implemented in 2022.
  • Already one month into the assignment the agreement with the interim manager was extended from 6 months to 12 months due to a great match and results.