At its annual shareholders meeting held Oct. 8, 2008, Firmenich International SA announced chairman Jean-Marc Bruel's retirement from the board of directors. Bruel joined the Firmenich board in 1995, and succeeded Fred-Henri Firmenich as chairman in March 2000 to become the first non-family chairman of Firmenich since it was founded in 1895. According to an announcement, Bruel made a significant contribution to the strategic orientation of the group during a period of significant growth and acquisitions.
Vernon Sankey has been elected as the new chairman, effective October 2008. A 59-year-old British national and Oxford University graduate, Sankey joined the Firmenich board in October 2006. He is currently a member of the boards of Zürich Financial Services AG and Atos Origin SA. He has also held positions as chairman of Thomson Travel Group plc and as director of the boards of Pearson plc, Cofra AG, Taylor Woodrow plc, Gala Group plc and the UK’s Food Standards Agency.
Sankey spent most of his career with Reckitt & Colman plc, until its merger with the Dutch firm, Benckiser N.V. in 1999. He was president of Reckitt & Colman (R&C) France, managing director of R&C’s UK food business and group director for North America, before taking over as CEO from 1992 to 1999.