JOHANNESBURG - Health and wellness group Ascendis Health, which in May fired its chief executive Thomas Thomsen has poached Mark Sardi from apparel group House of Busby.

The group said 50-year-old Sardi was brought in to steer a turnaround strategy after months of pressure that saw Thomsen walking the plank, as the results for the six months to December 2018 tilted the stock over the edge.

“Mark has extensive experience in senior leadership positions in investment banking, the pharmaceutical industry and the retail sector, with a strong track record in strategic, operational and financial management in large listed and unlisted companies.

“Mark is well equipped to lead Ascendis Health where the priorities are to turn around under-performing businesses, dispose of non-core assets, reduce gearing and improve cash management, while capitalising on the strong brand portfolio to generate organic sales growth,” Ascendis chairperson Andrew Marshall said in a statement yesterday.

A chartered accountant, Sardi has served as managing director and joint head of investment banking at Nedbank Capital for five years. He joined Truworths International as chief financial officer in 2010 with responsibility for finance, governance, African expansion, business development and investor relations.

Three years later he was appointed deputy chief executive of generic pharmaceutical business, Cipla SA, where he was responsible for strategy, marketing and administration, and human resources. In 2014, Sardi was appointed group chief executive of the House of Busby, the master franchisor for leading international apparel brands.

Ascendis has been battling a string of poor results. It sold its manufacturing facility in Gauteng to international pharmaceutical company Mylan for R130million in December 2018, realising a profit of R19.6m. This was on the back of its disposing of the South African sports nutrition business for R54m in September 2018.

It was also in the process of selling the Efekto, Marltons and Afrikelp businesses, which form part of the group's biosciences division.