TreeHouse President Resigns After Four Months

Nov. 2, 2017
Robert Aiken suddenly exits as sales and earnings fall; his replacement will be a CEO.

After just four months on the job, Robert Aiken resigned as president of TreeHouse Foods Inc. on Oct. 29. Chairman and CEO Sam Reed will assume the role of president while a search gets under way for Aiken's replacement.

It may just be nuance, but apparently Aiken's replacement will be a CEO, not just a president, with Reed presumably giving up the CEO title.

Four days later, the company announced disappointing third-quarter numbers, with sales down 2.4 percent in the quarter to $1.5 billion, compared to $1.6 billion for the same period last year. However, the entire drop in sales can be attributed to the divestiture of the canned soup and infant feeding business, and sales are running 4.8 percent higher through nine months. 

Net income for the third quarter was $28.8 million, compared to $37.4 million for the same period in 2016.

The early 2016 acquisition of Conagra's private label business (formerly Ralcorp), which doubled TreeHouse's size, has proven a bigger challenge than the acquirer expected. TreeHouse has closed several plants this year in a restructuring program.

"We are disappointed by Bob's decision and his resulting departure and wish him well in his future endeavors," said Reed. "As we initiate our search for a replacement, we will pursue a chief executive officer with the full involvement of our board of directors."

Aiken took over (eventually) from Christopher Sliva, who left TreeHouse last November to head AdvancePierre Foods.

"Private label is of great and growing importance for our customers, and our fundamental vision and strategy remain constant," Reed continued. "We have strong leadership and a clear path forward, and we are committed to finding the right candidate to lead us on that journey. Our commitment to TreeHouse 2020 [the restructuring program] is unwavering, and we will take the steps necessary to improve the foundation of our TreeHouse."

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