TORONTO — General Assembly Holdings Ltd. (GA Pizza), a Toronto-based fast-casual pizza restaurant turned omnichannel consumer packaged goods brand, has made several changes to its leadership team along with a move to a new production facility.
Hormis Tharakan, chief operating officer, left the company to pursue other opportunities on Sept. 16.
Ali Khan Lalani, founder and current chief executive officer, has transitioned from CEO to president of the company, effective Sept. 15. Lalani will maintain his directorship on the board as he takes on many of Tharakan’s previous responsibilities, the company said.
“The board thanks Lalani for his leadership as CEO in growing GA Pizza from a concept to an established CPG brand sold in 500 retail locations across Canada,” the company said. “The board looks forward to his continued contributions during the next phase of GA Pizza’s growth.”
Eric Balshin has been named interim CEO. GA Pizza said it has entered into an executive services agreement with Sophic Capital Inc., a capital markets advisory firm for public and private growth companies, pursuant to which it has retained Sophic Capital to provide the services of Balshin as interim CEO of the company. Balshin has extensive capital markets and consumer product goods startup experience, and brings a financial, bottom-line focus to the business. He also is vice president of capital markets advisory at Sophic Capital.
Glen Keleher was appointed to the board. Keleher brings more than 20 years of operational experience in multiple manufacturing industries and has extensive experience reducing production costs while providing better quality products, the company said. Keleher has led two manufacturing companies from start up through exit.
“Keleher has acted as an adviser to some of Canada’s most exciting startups, guiding them to create meaningful strategic plans and coaching them to achieve their desired results,” the company said. Keleher replaces Nicholas Reichenbach, who has resigned from the board to pursue other interests.
GA Pizza also announced it has terminated its current master production facility lease and will be moving its frozen pizza operations to a new 12,610-square-foot facility located in Mississauga, Ont. (Pacific Circle), pursuant to the terms of a five-year lease.
“Pacific Circle better services the needs of the company and its growth strategy,” GA Pizza said. “The company has built up sufficient inventory to cover all retail partners’ demand requirements and no disruptions to the business are anticipated. Production in Pacific Circle is expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2022.”
Lalani said the move to Pacific Circle will help reduce both fixed and variable costs of producing each pizza.
“The facility, a former frozen foods manufacturing facility, just happened to come up for lease and brings with it all the production capabilities and strategic location required to help us improve our margin structure and ensure the company’s long-term success,” Lalani said.
Balshin said he has been working with GA Pizza’s team for almost a year as the company worked to expand its distribution of premium frozen pizzas across Canada.
“The 500 retail locations across Canada selling our premium pizzas provide a solid foundation and opportunity for the next phase of our growth,” Balshin said. “With our recent $2 million strategic financing, Lalani spending more time applying his operational expertise to the company, our move to a new facility that is expected to streamline our CPG operations and costs, a strong performing pizza restaurant that is now back to pre-pandemic levels, and the full support from our board, there remains considerable upside potential at GA Pizza.”