Campbell CEO Morrison retires, effective immediately

Denise Morrison, CEO and president of Campbell Soup Co., announced she is retiring effective immediately, the company announced Friday morning.

Keith McLoughlin, 61, a Campbell board member since 2016, has been named interim CEO and will also remain a member of the board to facilitate an orderly transition in management.

Recently elevated Chief Operating Officer Luca Mignini will focus on the integration of newly acquired Snyder’s-Lance and Pacific Foods and stabilizing the company’s U.S. soup business, the company said.

“I am proud of Campbell’s accomplishments and how we have transformed our portfolio amid changing consumer tastes for food and health and well-being,” Campbell said in a statement. “It has been an honor to lead this iconic company and exceptional team, and I am confident that Campbell will enjoy continued success for many years to come.”

McLouglin said he is confident he can lead the company.

“Having been a director and observing the company over an extended period of time, I know where Campbell has been and where it’s headed and am excited to lead the company as we continue to work to increase value for all our stakeholders,” he said. “I am eager to begin working with our talented team as we strive to accelerate our growth strategy, improve our execution and deliver shareholder value.”

Les C. Vinney, chairman of the board, thanked Morrison for her service to the company.

“Denise has been a passionate advocate and leader over her 15 years with the company,” he said in a statement. “She has made many important contributions over the past seven years as chief executive officer to reposition Campbell in the rapidly changing food industry.

“Denise has been able to significantly transform Campbell’s portfolio into the faster-growing snacking category with the acquisition of Snyder’s-Lance and increased the company’s focus on health and well-being with brands like Pacific Foods. Her actions have helped to enhance the long-term growth potential of Campbell. On behalf of the board, I want to thank Denise for her dedicated service and wish her the best.”

Vinney also praised McLoughlin.

“We are fortunate to have on our board a talented and experienced business leader in Keith who is prepared to step into the CEO position on an interim basis,” Vinney said. “Keith is deeply familiar with our strategy, our team and our brands, and we are confident in his ability to lead the company during this transitional period.”

McLoughlin was CEO and president of Electrolux AB, a global manufacturer of major household appliances, from 2011 until February 2016.

McLoughlin joined Electrolux AB in 2003 and held a number of senior positions before being named CEO, a position he held until he announced his retirement in January 2016.

(READ MORE from ROI-NJ on interim CEO Keith McLoughlin.)

Before joining Electrolux AB, McLoughlin spent 22 years in senior leadership roles at E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., leading several consumer brand businesses.

McLoughlin graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science in engineering. He is a member of the board of directors at Briggs & Stratton Corp. He has served as an independent director on Campbell’s board of directors since 2016.

Campbell also announced its quarterly results Friday. Sales did increase 15 percent for the quarter, to $2.125 billion, but were driven by the acquisitions rather than organic sales. Gross margin was down.

“While our organic sales in the quarter were stable in this difficult environment, our gross margin performance was below our expectations,” Chief Financial Officer Anthony DiSilvestro said in a statement. “Based on our third-quarter results and outlook for the balance of the year, we are lowering our fiscal 2018 earnings guidance. …

(READ MORE from ROI-NJ on female leaders’ reaction.)

“Looking ahead, we will be reviewing all aspects of our strategic plans and portfolio composition. We anticipate that our review, which will take several months to complete, will lead to changes designed to improve our operating performance and create long-term shareholder value.”

Chris Versace, the chief investment officer at Tematica Research and an assistant professor at the New Jersey City University School of Business, said Morrison’s  departure can be seen as a reaction to Campbell’s struggle to redefine its business in a transitional time for the food industry.

“What we are seeing in the Campbell’s earnings report and decision to undertake a strategic review is yet another company that is grappling with the changes to their business model as consumer preference shifts toward healthier eating and snacking,” Versace said. “Some businesses are able to use acquisitions to pivot their businesses more quickly and respond to changing thematic tailwinds. Others, like we are seeing with Campbell Soup, are not.”