The Hain Celestial Group Inc. said Monday veteran consumer packaged foods executive Mark Schiller will replace its founder, Irwin Simon, as president and CEO.
Lake Success, N.Y.-based Hain Celestial (NASDAQ: HAIN) is a major organic and natural food manufacturer and marketer with $2.5 billion in annual sales. The company owns 57 brands including the Earth’s Best organic baby food, Celestial Seasonings tea, Walnut Acres Organic, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, and BluePrint cold-pressed juice brands, among others.
Shares of Hain Celestial hit a six-year low Friday of $23.75 before closing at $24.16, down more than 2 percent. The stock has a 52-week high of $44.37. Hain has a market cap of $2.5 billion.
Schiller, who starts with Hain on Nov. 5, just finished an eight-year stint at Pinnacle Foods, most recently serving as its executive vice president and chief commercial officer, overseeing the vast majority of the company’s multi-billion dollar grocery and frozen segments.
Hain Celestial had announced in June that Simon would be leaving the company he started 25 years ago by the end of the year. Simon departs with a $34.3 million cash separation payment. The departure comes after Engaged Capital LLC took control of Hain’s board in September 2017 after bringing in six dissident directors.
Simon has agreed to a three-month consulting agreement to help Schiller “with a smooth transition” into his CEO role as well as assisting with the previously announced divestment of the company’s organic and natural chicken and turkey division Hain Pure Protein Corporation, including each of the Empire Kosher, Plainville Farms, and FreeBird businesses. Simon will be paid consulting fees of $975,000 for the three-month term.
Hain said it expects to divest HPP by the first half of FY2019. According to a report by the New York Post, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, the nation’s “largest provider of organic poultry,” has made a bid for HPP. In August, the USDA linked the Empire Kosher brand to “multiple” salmonella illnesses in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic U.S., with half of those sickened being hospitalized.
Also in August, Hain reported fourth quarter adjusted earnings per share of $0.27, beating expectations by a penny, on revenue of $619.6 million, down 1 percent on a constant currency basis and below estimates by about $10 million.