Minneapolis-based General Mills Inc. promoted its president/COO Kendall Powell to succeed longtime CEO Steve Sanger. Powell was introduced at the companys September annual meeting and noted, "Steve will be a tough act to follow."
Although General Mills had not previously announced Sanger would be leaving his post, company spokespeople called it a planned succession. Sanger, 61, who has been CEO since May 1995, an unusually long time in the food industry, will remain chairman through the current fiscal year, which ends next May.
Powell, 53, has been with the company 28 years and has been president/COO since June 2006. His earlier management posts were at Yoplait yogurt, Big G cereals, Cereal Partners Worldwide (the joint venture with Nestlé SA) and General Mills U.S. retail division.
Powell said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal he has worked closely with Steve for the last three years, including developing the company's five long-term growth strategies, which include broadening the channels through which the company sells its products, expanding overseas and bringing more innovation to the business.