PepsiCo boss Nooyi stifles succession talk: ‘At this point I’m still in the chair!’


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Indra Nooyi (Photo: Jeff Bedford/Flickr)
Indra Nooyi (Photo: Jeff Bedford/Flickr)

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PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi insists she’s ‘still in the chair’ after one analyst asked for her thoughts on CEO transition.

Discussing the firm’s Q1 2014 results with analysts, Mark Swartzberg, an analyst from Stifel Nicolaus, asked: “Any update on how you are thinking Indra, and how the board is thinking on CEO transition?”

“In terms of succession…we start talking about CEO succession the day after you appoint anyone in that job, because we have a very orderly succession process,”​ Nooyi replied.

“The board reviews it every other board meeting, we look at emergency succession, long term succession. We have very deliberate talent development models within the company,” ​she added.

‘We have an outstanding group of leaders’ – Nooyi

“PepsiCo is known for that. We have an outstanding group of leaders within the company who can assume bigger and bigger jobs. But let me assure you at this point, I’m still in the chair,”​ Nooyi said.

Nooyi told Bonnie Herzog, senior analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, that she was pleased with flat organic beverage volume growth in North America in Q1, given sales declines in recent years.

(PepsiCo group net revenue for Q1 – the 12 weeks ending March 23 2014 – was up slightly to $12.623bn, while net income rose 13% to $1.216bn.)

“We had a very, very good first quarter in North American Beverages. And I think we had growth across the board, in all parts of the portfolio,”​ Nooyi said.

‘Feeling good’ about North American Beverages

“We held or gained value share in CSDs, sports drinks, RTD tea and coffee. We grew retail sales in the US through measured channels for regular colas and Mountain Dew in CSDs,”​ she added.

Gatorade, Lipton Tea, Starbucks coffee, Naked Juice – this is one of those quarters where, in spite of the fact we had bad weather for some days of Q1…innovation stuck, our execution was terrific, we just performed well,”​ Nooyi said.

She added that for several quarters now PepsiCo had gained or held value share in US Liquid Refreshment Beverages (LRB) across measured channels.

“All the investment the focus on brand building and execution in North American Beverages is beginning to pay off. We’re feeling good about the prospects in this business,”​ Nooyi said.

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