CFO Mark Belgya will retire in September next year

CFO Mark Belgya will retire in September next year

J.M. Smucker announced its finance chief Mark Belgya will retire next year from the US-based food and beverages group and has named Tucker Marshall as his successor.

Meanwhile, the New York-listed manufacturer of jams and peanut butter also revealed a new management structure, including the creation of a chief operating officer role, and a reshuffle of appointments across marketing, strategy, legal and administration.

Belgya, who is also vice chairman, will retire on 1 September next year. In the meantime, Marshall, currently the vice president of finance, will assume the roles of senior vice president and deputy chief financial officer on 25 November. He will succeed Belgya following the completion of the current fiscal year on 1 May, 2020, while the outgoing CFO will remain vice chair until his retirement.

CEO Mark Smucker commented on Belgya's departure: "On behalf of the entire board and leadership team, I want to thank Mark for his 35-year commitment to our company, including serving as our CFO for the past 15 years. His guidance and leadership have been instrumental to the company's transformational sales growth from US$2bn to nearly $8bn, and he has been at the centre of the acquisitions and divestitures that have diversified and strengthened our portfolio of brands."

Marshall joined Ohio-based J.M. Smucker in 2012 following a career in investment banking and private equity. 

The company said it has launched a search for someone to fill the new COO role, which could include an internal candidate. That person will oversee "strategic and operational oversight" of US consumer foods, pet food and pet snacks, coffee, and the North American away-from-home businesses, as well as its operations and supply chain functions. 

In other appointments, Amy Held, the firm's senior vice president for corporate strategy, M&A and international, has been elected chief strategy and international officer but will continue to lead previous functions.

J.M. Smucker added in a statement late yesterday (13 November): "As part of these executive leadership changes, Dave Lemmon, president of pet food and pet snacks, and Kevin Jackson, senior vice president for US retail sales and away-from-home, are no longer in leadership roles, effective today, and will officially be exiting the company in early December." 

A search is under way for replacements for both roles.

Geoff Tanner, currently senior vice president for growth and consumer engagement, has been elected chief marketing and commercial officer. 

CEO Smucker added: "This planned evolution of our leadership structure is an important step to ensure we are positioned to meet and exceed the needs of today and tomorrow's retailers and consumers. The board of directors and I are confident the changes we are making will strengthen our company and ensure each of our 7,591 talented employees are empowered and focused on delivering our strategy, which creates value for our shareholders and all constituents." 

In announcing the latest financial results in August for the first quarter ended in July, the CEO said the numbers "fell short of expectations". Last year, J.M. Smucker sold its bakery business and acquired Ainsworth Pet Nutrition.

First-quarter net sales fell 6% to $1.78bn – primarily as a result of the bakery divestiture - while comparable sales were down 4%. Operating income rose 14% to $257.6m but adjusted operating income dropped 8% to $290.7m.

Net income per share increased 16% to $1.36.

The company also downgraded its full-year sales outlook to down 1% to flat, from up 1-2% previously.

John Baumgartner, a senior analyst at Wells Fargo, wrote in a research note to clients on the management reshuffle: "We see the shake-up as necessary given the ongoing softness in the pet and retail segments, which increasingly threaten fiscal '20 revenue guidance. While we wouldn't rule out the potential for another guide-down, with Q2 EPS scheduled on 22 November, sentiment is already poor and a cut appears to already be in the consensus."