Smithfield Foods Inc. announced today that C. Larry Pope, chief executive officer, will retire from the company, effective December 31, 2015. Kenneth M. Sullivan, Smithfield's president and chief operating officer, will succeed Pope as chief executive officer upon his retirement.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to lead Smithfield over the past nine years," Pope said. "This planned leadership transition comes at a time of strength and growth for Smithfield.”
Pope said 2014 and 2015 have been the two best years in Smithfield's history for financial performance, which has primed the company 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,” Pope said. “During this time, we have unified Smithfield and made the company stronger and more efficient to better support our people, brands and customers.”
He said the next generation of leadership will ensure Smithfield's success long into the future.
“I am extremely pleased with what we have achieved during my tenure as CEO 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."
Sullivan was named president and chief operating officer earlier this year. He previously held a number of positions within the organization including serving as chief financial officer from 2013 to 2015, vice president of finance from 2010 to 2013 and chief accounting officer from 2007 to 2013. Prior to joining Smithfield in 2003, Sullivan spent twelve years at large public accounting and consulting firms serving a variety of clients in the manufacturing, technology, and government contracting sectors.
"I am very excited and thankful to the board for giving me the opportunity to lead Smithfield, the company I have called home for over 12 years," Sullivan said. "We have a strong leadership team in place with a shared vision and commitment to continue our evolution as a consumer packaged goods company. I look forward to working with the entire Smithfield team by remaining people-oriented, continuing to serve our customers and consumers and capturing the significant growth potential that exists for our company. I am grateful for the support and guidance that Larry has given to me."