July 1/BusinessWire -- Kraft Foods Inc. announced that W. Anthony (Tony) Vernon will become president, Kraft Foods North America, in mid-August. Vernon joins Kraft Foods from private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings, following a career at Johnson & Johnson. He will report to Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld and become a member of the Kraft Foods Executive Team.
"Tony has an impressive history of building and sustaining iconic consumer brands. His strong track record of growth through consumer-driven innovation, world-class marketing and strong retail relationships will help to further accelerate our business performance," said Rosenfeld.
Vernon replaces Rick Searer, who will retire at the end of September.
Rosenfeld continued, "For nearly 30 years, Rick has been an exceptional member of our team. At every step on the corporate ladder, he achieved impressive business results. But more than that, Rick has a truly rare combination of intellect and humanity, insight and inspiration, drive and compassion. These are hallmarks of a great leader. We'll miss him."
Vernon is a 26-year veteran of the healthcare industry, principally in consumer businesses at Johnson & Johnson, and over the last three years as healthcare industry partner of Ripplewood Holdings. At J & J, Vernon ran multibillion-dollar independent business units and led many of that company's largest consumer brands, including Tylenol, Motrin, Pepcid AC, Imodium and Splenda. His accomplishments include leading the strategic evaluation, licensing and launch of Concerta and turning Remicade into a market leader in biologics; both of these prescription drugs are now billion dollar franchises for J & J.
Vernon earned a bachelor's degree in history from Lawrence University and an MBA from the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
From the July 6, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition