* Dave Woodward replaces Scott O'Hara
* O'Hara once seen as potential CEO
* Woodward last month named to head Latin America, Africa,
Middle East unit
* Woodward ran Heinz UK and Ireland from 2006 until May
By Brad Dorfman
June 26 H.J. Heinz Co has replaced the
head of its North American business, which has been lagging the
rest of the company in sales growth as price increases and cuts
in promotions have hurt sales volume.
Scott O'Hara had been president and chief executive of
Heinz's largest business segment for nearly three years and was
once considered a candidate to run the entire company. He is
leaving to pursue other opportunities, Heinz said on Tuesday,
without giving further details.
Replacing him immediately is Dave Woodward, 47, who was put
in charge just last month of the business unit that includes
Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. He had been president
of the company's UK & Ireland business since 2006.
Shares of Heinz, which makes its namesake ketchup, Ore-Ida
frozen potatoes and other packaged foods, were down 10 cents at
The North American business, including both consumer
products and food service, accounted for roughly 40 percent of
the company's $11.65 billion in sales in the fiscal year ended
Organic sales, which measures sales volume plus price
changes, rose only 0.5 percent in the North American consumer
business last year, while organic sales rose 3.5 percent for the
company as a whole.
Price increases hurt volume, which fell 2.3 percent for the
consumer unit but only 0.3 percent for the company as a whole.
"We expect more of a focus on the top line from here," J.P.
Morgan analyst Ken Goldman said in an research note. He said
that after recent conversations with management, he thinks that
Heinz Chief Executive William Johnson was disappointed that the
focus in the segment was more on short-term profits than
O'Hara and David Moran, the former head of North America who
now runs Heinz's European business, had previously been seen as
leading internal candidates to replace Johnson, 63.
"Last month, we would have said that Mr. Moran had taken the
lead in this race, but now we think Mr. Woodward is in the
running, too," Goldman said.
A Heinz spokesman said Johnson and the board have had an
ongoing succession process for years.
"Bill and the board are firmly committed to Bill leading
Heinz for years to come as the company continues to drive growth
and shareholder value," the spokesman, Michael Mullen, said.
Heinz said it expects to name a new head of its business
outside North America shortly.