Tom Hayes to Succeed Donnie Smith as Tyson Foods CEO

Tom Hayes will succeed Donnie Smith as chief executive officer of Tyson Foods on December 31, 2016. Fifty-one-year-old Hayes will continue to serve as president and was appointed to the board of directors, effective November 21. Smith, age 56, who has been the Springdale, Arkansas-headquartered company’s ceo since November of 2009, will be available to consult with for a three-year period.

hayes 180x160Tom Hayes“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 will result in a smooth leadership transition that positions us for continued growth and innovation. 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.”

Hayes was appointed president earlier this year and is leading Tyson’s strategy of building a stronger platform to support sales of branded value-added prepared products as well as specialty meats and chicken, beef and pork commodity items. He has been responsible for retailed packaged brands, international and global growth, North American sales, strategy and new ventures.

Prior to joining Tyson, where he served as chief commercial officer before becoming president, Hayes was the chief supply chain officer at The Hillshire Brands Company, heading up operations including procurement, manufacturing, food safety and quality, engineering and logistics. 

Before that, he was senior vice president and chief supply chain officer for Sara Lee North America, responsible for supply chain activities at the company’s North American retail and foodservice businesses. He also held the position of president of Sara Lee Foodservice. Other experience includes a tour of duty as group vice president of US Foodservice, Inc., and general management, sales and marketing roles at ConAgra Foods, The Fort James Corporation, Stella Foods and Kraft Foods.

Income Up, Profits Down in Q4

tyson anytizers hotwingsboneinbuffalostyleMeanwhile, Tyson Foods reported an operations income increase of 7% to $586 million for the fourth quarter ending on October 1, even though sales slipped by 12.8% to $9.6 billion compared with the same period in 2015. The decline was due in part to lower beef prices.

Looking at full-year results, CEO Smith commented: “Fiscal 2016 was our fourth consecutive year of record results. We produced record earnings per share, operating income and operating margin. We’re growing where we want to grow by selling more branded, higher-margin products. Sales volume was up in our Core 9 product lines at retail and our top tier products in foodservice.”

tyson grillednready sweetteriyakiflavoredchickenthighfilletsSmith reported that Tyson’s Prepared Foods segment – which features value-added frozen poultry products such as Any’tizers Grillin Wings and Grilled & Ready Fully Cooked Chicken Fillets, had a record margin for the year, while simultaneously driving industry-leading category growth at retail. The Pork segment logged a record year as well, while the Chicken segment nearly matched last year’s record margin. The Beef segment turned around, producing normalized margins for the year.

“Synergies and profit improvement for the fiscal year totaled $580 million, well exceeding our $500 million target,” said Dennis Leatherby, Tyson’s executive vice president and chief financial officer.