ConAgra Foods on Feb. 12 announced Sean Connolly, former CEO of Hillshire Brands, will be its next CEO, replacing Gary Rodkin effective April 6.
Last August, Rodkin announced his intention to retire at the end of ConAgra's fiscal year, this May 31.
Connolly, 49, was president and CEO of Hillshire Brands Co. from the time of its formation as an independent company (when Sara Lee was dismantled and renamed in 2012) till its sale to Tyson Foods in August 2014.
He had been CEO of Sara Lee's North American retail and foodservice business, and earlier was president of Campbell Soup North America. He also managed brands in the food and beverage division at Procter & Gamble. Connolly has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.
“We are thrilled to have Sean join ConAgra Foods as our new CEO,” said Steve Goldstone, chairman of ConAgra's board of directors. “His track record of building brands, energizing teams, and creating value makes him an ideal fit. We are confident he will infuse focus and enthusiasm at ConAgra Foods.”
Rodkin, who has been CEO since 2005, will step down as CEO in April but will serve as an advisor to the company until his official retirement May 31.
In thanking Rodkin for his service, Goldstone noted, “Our company was a very different place in 2005 when Gary arrived." Rodkin's term has been eventful, the company surviving a 2007 recall of Peter Pan peanut butter and the late-2012 acquisition of Ralcorp, which made ConAgra the country's largest private labeler. After the initial bump, sales have flattened and the company reported a scant $10 million profit in its second quarter, ended Nov. 23, 2014. Sales were nearly $7.9 billion at the six-month point.