SMITHFIELD, VA. — C. Larry Pope, chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods, Inc., the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer, will retire from the company, effective Dec. 31, following a 35-year career. Kenneth M. Sullivan, Smithfield’s president and chief operating officer, will succeed Mr. Pope as c.e.o. upon his retirement.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to lead Smithfield over the past nine years,” Mr. Pope said. “This planned leadership transition comes at a time of strength and growth for Smithfield. 2014 and 2015 have been the two best years in Smithfield’s history for financial performance, and I believe the company is primed for ongoing success. Since February, the Smithfield family has been hard at work implementing our ‘One Smithfield’ initiative aimed at solidifying the company’s position as a global leader in branded packaged meats. During this time, we have unified Smithfield and made the company stronger and more efficient to better support our people, brands and customers. We have also put in place the next generation of leadership to ensure Smithfield’s success long into the future. I am extremely pleased with what we have achieved during my tenure as c.e.o. and think the future is even brighter with the management team that we have put in place over the past two years. As such, I believe now is the right time for me to retire and allow this team to bring new excitement, energy, ideas and perspectives to the company.”
Mr. Sullivan was named president and c.o.o. earlier this year. He has held a number of positions within the organization since joining the company in 2003, including chief financial officer, vice-president of finance, and chief accounting officer. Prior to joining Smithfield, Mr. Sullivan spent 12 years at large public accounting and consulting firms serving a variety of clients in the manufacturing, technology and government contracting sectors.“Ken is the ideal person to serve as Smithfield’s next chief executive officer,” Mr. Pope said. “We have been planning this transition internally for some time and are very confident that it will be orderly and seamless to those inside and outside Smithfield. Ken is intimately familiar with the company’s operations and has worked closely with me in developing and executing our strategy and ‘One Smithfield’ initiative. I have the utmost confidence that Smithfield will continue to grow and thrive under Ken’s leadership.”