Author: Gordon Platt
Company to Watch: Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods/Russia

Moscow-based Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods not only is selling more curds and whey in the capital region, but it also is expanding its dairy, juice, baby-food and bottled-water operations into the Russian provinces. The company was named after the tennis mecca Wimbledon in Britain, in the belief that Russian consumers like Western-sounding names. It passed a milestone of sorts last year when 51% of its $1.4 billion in sales came from outside of the Moscow metropolitan region.

Wimm-Bill-Dann has tapped a former Coca-Cola executive, Tony Maher, to be its chief executive. A 30-year veteran of Coca-Cola, Maher had led the US firm’s purchase of Russian juice company Multon last year. Born in Ireland, Maher has extensive experience in senior-level positions at Coca-Cola in central and eastern Europe and has been working in the Russian market for more than a decade.

Wimm-Bill-Dann has a diversified portfolio of brands, with more than 1,100 types of dairy products and 150 beverages. Its gross margin in beverages widened to 36% last year, thanks to higher prices and improved efficiency. The company has more than 17,000 employees, and its ADRs are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.