Jais Valeur has been named the new group CEO of Danish Crown. Valeur will replace Kjeld Johannesen, who has been the group CEO for the past 27 years.

To ensure the smoothest possible transition, Valeur, will join Danish Crown in mid-November and, following a brief introductory period, will assume full responsibility as group CEO from the beginning of 2016. 

Kjeld Johannesen’s career

Johannesen announced more than a year ago that he was planning to retire in spring 2016 after 45 years in the business. He has been employed in the industry since starting out as a trainee clerk at the slaughterhouse in Hurup in northern Jutland at the age of 18. 

In 1988, he took over as CEO of the slaughterhouse business Wenbo in northern Jutland, and in 1990 the establishment of Danish Crown marked the start of the consolidation of the Danish slaughterhouse industry. The mergers between Danish Crown and Vestjyske in 1998 and with Steff Houlberg in 2001 cemented Danish Crown’s role as a leading European food company. 

For the past 15 years, Johannesen’s particular focus has been on the international development of the group. Following strategic acquisitions in a large number of countries, Danish Crown is now a significant global player. 


When he steps down at the beginning of the new year, Johannesen will be handing over the reins of an international group which has for a number of years been the second-largest in its line of business, and which is today the world’s largest pork export business. 

“Kjeld Johannesen is a unique leader who has worked hard over the years to bring together the entire value chain, and very successfully so. He has very much had the interests of the owners at heart, while at the same time focusing on developing the group’s increasingly international sales. Among business leaders, Kjeld Johannesen is distinguished by his extremely detailed knowledge of all aspects of the business,” said Erik Bredholt, chairman of the Danish Crown Board of Directors. 

About the new group CEO

After thorough searches, the board of directors decided to appoint Valeur as new group CEO of Danish Crown. Valeur comes from a position as executive vice president of Arla Foods. Except for a couple of stints with Royal Unibrew and the New Zealand Dairy Board, Jais has been with Arla Foods since 1986. 

“Jais Valeur possesses in-depth knowledge of international sales – as well as a keen understanding of an ownership structure in which the group’s owners are also the suppliers of its raw materials. We are convinced that he is the right person to take over from Kjeld Johannesen,” said Bredholt.