SPRINGDALE, ARK. — Donnie Smith, chief executive officer of Tyson Foods, Inc. since 2009, said he will step down at the end of the year. The announcement accompanied Tyson’s quarterly financial results, which indicated a lower-than-expected profit.
Tom Hayes, president, will succeed Mr. Smith on Dec. 31 and continue as president. Mr. Hayes also has been appointed to the board of directors, effective immediately. Mr. Smith said he will be available to consult with the company for a three-year period.
“I take great pride in having led Tyson Foods for the past seven years,” Mr. Smith said. “In addition to helping the company deliver growth and strong shareholder returns, I am also proud of the efforts we have undertaken to make Tyson Foods a company with a conscience, focused on providing consumers wholesome, affordable food and making a positive difference in people’s lives. When Tyson acquired Hillshire Brands in 2014, with the support of the board and the family, we embarked on a new strategy to integrate the strengths and products of each company into one company, and the resulting hybrid model has been a success in no small part thanks to Tom’s strategic, operational and commercial accomplishments. I am confident that Tom is the right c.e.o. to continue the transition we have started and lead Tyson in the next phase of its strategic development and growth. I look forward to supporting Tom and the rest of the management team.”
Mr. Hayes has spent 29 years in the consumer products industry. Prior to his role as president, Mr. Hayes was chief commercial officer at Tyson Foods, and before that he was president of food service. Previously, Mr. Hayes was chief supply chain officer for The Hillshire Brands Co. Before that, Mr. Hayes was senior vice-president and chief supply chain officer for Sara Lee North America, and prior to this role, he was president of Sara Lee Foodservice. Before joining Sara Lee in 2006, Mr. Hayes was group vice-president of US Foodservice, Inc. He also held general management, sales and marketing positions at ConAgra Foods, Kraft Foods, Stella Foods and The Fort James Corp.“Tom Hayes is a proven leader who has played an important role in creating today’s Tyson Foods and driving growth across our company,” said John Tyson, chairman of the board of directors. “The plan we have announced today will result in a smooth leadership transition that positions Tyson Foods for continued growth and innovation. The board’s decision to name Tom c.e.o. at this time was based on both his track record and how his skills align with the company’s strategic direction and continuing evolution. The board has the utmost confidence in Tom’s ability to build on the platform Donnie has created, to expand further into developing markets, new product categories and proprietary food experiences, and to continue investing in our core nine categories.”