Cranberry sales for US co-operative Ocean Spray Cranberries may be booming in Europe but news this week that its CEO of three years, Robert Hawthorne, has resigned led US ratings agency Moody's to review a possible downgrade for the company.
In a statement, the ratings agency claimed : "Moody's Investors Service placed the Baa3 preferred stock rating and Prime-2 short term rating of Ocean Spray Cranberries on review for possible downgrade. This action follows the announcement that Ocean Spray's CEO has resigned, creating uncertainty surrounding the future strategic direction of the co-operative.
Management turnover has been a recurring issue with Ocean Spray as yesterday's resignation of CEO Robert Hawthorne comes less than three years after the resignations of its prior CEO and CFO."
But in an upbeat statement on Thursday, Ocean Spray chairman Benjamin A. Gilmore II said: "The board will use this opportunity to search out a fresh skill set to take the Ocean Spray co-operative to the next level."
While a chief executive search is under way, Barbara S. Thomas, a board member and former president of Warner Lambert's consumer healthcare division will act as interim CEO. "Barbara has a strong consumer products background and we are confident in her ability to oversee implementation of our current strategic plan and continue our co-operative's growth, until we secure a new chief executive," added Gilmore.