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Noah Zivitz

Managing Editor, BNN Bloomberg

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Freshii Inc., the Canadian fast-food brand that brought salad and bowls to the masses, is getting a new chief executive, potentially signalling a fresh start for the company whose stock rapidly fell out of favour after a high-profile public offering.

Matt Corrin, Freshii's founder and chief executive, will transition to the role of executive chairman after Daniel Haroun, who currently serves as the company's chief financial officer, inherits the role of chief executive as of Thursday, the company said after markets closed Wednesday.

"In my role as executive chairman, I intend to maintain my significant shareholdings in Freshii, be our biggest brand champion, and our most loyal guest — for the long term. I am confident in Daniel’s ability to lead our brand and culture on a path that is accretive to the company’s share value," Corrin said in a release.

Freshii pulled off a glitzy initial public offering ceremony at the Toronto Stock Exchange broadcast centre in January 2017 — the stock peaked a few weeks later. As of the close of trading Wednesday, the company’s shares were down almost 87 per cent since their debut as investors were scared off by an ambitious growth strategy, rapidly intensifying competition, and a series of disappointing sales performances.

Haroun joined Freshii in 2019 and previously held positions at Walmart Canada and Restaurant Brands International Inc.

In a release, Haroun acknowledged Freshii faces "opportunity and challenges" and that he looks forward to the "next chapter of omnichannel growth."

“The CEO change may help bring back some investor confidence, and the change is at the right time as [Freshii] is now finally at some key inflection points that should start to move the financial results in an attractive way and increasingly make the stock look undervalued,” said an analyst who declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak on the matter.

To fill Haroun's current role, Freshii announced it hired Victor Diab as chief financial officer. According to Diab's LinkedIn profile, he has been with Canadian Tire Corp. for almost 10 years and has most recently served as its vice-president of finance, operational efficiency, and investment planning. He will assume his role with Freshii on June 13.

In addition to the leadership changes, Freshii reported $9.6 million in first-quarter revenue, compared to $3.7 million a year earlier. Its net loss widened to $2.4 million from $1.3 million a year earlier. Freshii said its selling, general and administrative expenses climbed to almost $5.7 million from $3.9 million in the first quarter of 2021.

With a file from Paige Ellis