The board of directors of Sara Lee this morning (9 August) announced that Brenda Barnes will step down permanently from her roles as chairman and CEO in order to focus on improving her health after suffering a stroke in May.

Here just-food takes a look back on Barnes’ six-year tenure with the US food group.

February 2005 – Brenda Barnes is named CEO of the company, replacing Steve McMillan. She was president and CEO of PepsiCola North America from 1996 to 1998 and chief operating officer from 1994.

November 2005 – The company reaches an agreement on the principal terms and conditions for the sale of its European nuts and snacks business in the Netherlands, Belgium and France to PepsiCo for €130m (US$154m).

June 2006 – As part of its move to focus on core brands and businesses, Sara Lee sells its European meats business to Smithfield Foods for US$614m.

September 2006
– Six varieties of Sara Lee  Hearty & Delicious wide loaf breads are launched across the US. The new products are Sara Lee’s first natural breads.

September 2007 – The firm launches a line of “better-for-you” frozen breakfast sandwiches under the Jimmy Dean brand.

November 2008 – Sara Lee closes its Chicago kosher hot dog and meat processing facility in a move that sees the firm exit the kosher meat business.

May 2009
– The firm files a hot dog lawsuit against fellow US food giant Kraft Foods’ Oscar Mayer business for falsely claiming that its Oscar Mayer Jumbo Beef Franks have a superior taste to Sara Lee’s Ball Park branded hotdogs.

August 2009 – Sara Lee hails fiscal 2009 as a “good year” despite posting a 2.5% drop in net sales and seeing its shares tumble in the wake of its annual results.

December 2009
– Sara Lee sells its Ambi Pur air care business to Proctor & Gamble for US$470m in a bid to increase its focus on its core food business.

December 2009 – The US food group commits to reduce the salt content in a number of its food categories by around 20% over the next five years.

February 2010 – The firm revealed plans to expand in emerging markets like Russia and Brazil but insisted it had set “a high bar” when considering acquisitions.

May 2010 – Sara Lee announced that it will make “significant” marketing investments in the fourth quarter as it looks to create its own “tailwinds” to boost sales.

May 2010 – Barnes steers Sara Lee through the sale of its 51% stake in Indian household goods maker Godrej Sara Lee as it looks to increase its focus on its core food business.

August 2010 – Brenda Barnes steps down from her role as chairman and CEO.