- B&G Foods announced that CEO and President Kenneth Romanzi and the company "mutually agreed" for him to step down effective immediately to "pursue personal interests."
- David Wenner, who is currently a member of the board of directors and former president and CEO of B&G from 1993 to 2014, was appointed interim president and CEO. B&G said it will start a search for Romanzi's replacement.
- Romanzi, who previously served as chief operating officer at B&G, had been at the helm of the company for only a year and a half. He stepped into the role last year after former CEO Robert Cantwell retired.
This abrupt departure may come as a surprise to many in the industry as Romanzi has led B&G through a productive year despite the challenges of the pandemic.
As home food consumption has skyrocketed during coronavirus lockdowns, B&G has benefited. According to the company and Nielsen data, B&G's portfolio consumption grew 18% compared to last year in the 13 weeks ended Oct. 3. Earier this month, B&G reported earnings with net sales up 22% for the quarter. On an earnings call this month, Romanzi discussed plans for innovation coming in 2021 and how the company has invested more in e-commerce as that has grown increasingly important during the pandemic and beyond.
Just 11 days later, the company and Romanzi announced he would step aside immediately. B&G Chairman Stephen Sherrill said in a release that B&G has been financially strong under Romanzi’s leadership, especially during the pandemic, but that now is an optimal time for this switch to occur.
"All in all, we believe this is a good time to make a leadership transition and we are very fortunate that our former long-time CEO Dave Wenner, who has continued to serve on our board of directors, is now available and has agreed to help lead our company while we search for our next CEO," Sherrill said.
Choosing Wenner to fill the interim position will likely help facilitate a smoother transition. Since he has already been CEO and has remained active at B&G, Sherrill said Wenner is "up to speed on all aspects of our company’s operations and is deeply familiar with our strategy." That should give B&G time for its special committee to fully conduct a search for its next permanent CEO.
The company will likely be looking for someone with experience in M&A. Romanzi has led the company through the pandemic with improved sales while making several acquisitions in the last year and a half.
In October, J.M. Smucker announced it was selling its Crisco oils and shortening business to B&G for about $550 million. For B&G, the deal is the latest addition to the serial acquirer's portfolio that already includes brands like Green Giant, Ortega and Cream of Wheat. In February, B&G bought Veggie Fries maker Farmwise Foods and in 2019 acquired Clabber Girl for $80 million.
This tumultuous year also has led to other changes at B&G. It announced in September it would remove the image of a Black chef from the packaging of its Cream of Wheat. B&G started a review of the packaging following protests against systemic racism that pushed many companies to look at their pacakges and branding.