THOMASVILLE, GA. — Allen L. Shiver, president of Flowers Foods, Inc., has been elected president and chief executive officer by the company’s board, effective May 22. Announcing Mr. Shiver’s promotion, the company said George E. Deese, currently chairman and c.e.o., has been elected executive chairman, effective the same date.
Flowers said the announcement is “consistent with the company’s management succession plan.”
“This is a time of exciting opportunities for Flowers Foods, and the board and I are confident in Allen’s continued leadership as our team integrates recent acquisitions and focuses on growing sales and earnings,” Mr. Deese said. “My role as executive chairman is to ensure that our strategic direction is sound and that Flowers’ culture — what defines our team as unique in our industry — remains strong so we can continue to build value for our shareholders.”
The leadership transition, which will take place at the company’s annual meeting, is occurring at a time of unprecedented change at Flowers and within the baking industry. Later in February, Flowers will begin its acquisition of the Sara Lee and Earthgrains brands in California from Grupo Bimbo S.A.B. de C.V., a transaction that was the subject of legal wrangling in recent days but appears set to move ahead. Additionally, the company is the stalking horse bidder in a Feb. 28 auction for the largest part of the Hostess Brands Inc. bread business, a $360 million transaction that includes 20 baking plants and the Wonder and Home Pride brands.
Mr. Shiver said Flowers will work to bolster its position as the second largest U.S. baking company as it looks to complete acquisitions and planned market expansions.
“We expect to surpass our 2016 goal of reaching 75% of the U.S. population with our fresh baked foods three years ahead of schedule,” he said. “Even so, we will have significant growth opportunities in our new markets and in our core territories for years to come, and I am confident on our team’s ability to achieve our long-term growth objectives.”
Mr. Shiver, who is 57, has been promoted to increasing levels of responsibility in sales, marketing, and operations during his career at Flowers.
“Since being named president in 2010, he has provided operational oversight, been involved in strategic growth initiatives, and given guidance to the company’s national sales and marketing efforts,” Flowers said.
Mr. Shiver serves on the American Bakers Association board and is a past A.B.A. chairman. He also is a past co-chair of the Grain Foods Foundation Board of Trustees, and currently serves on the president’s advisory council and industry affairs council of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
Mr. Deese’s career at Flowers spans 48 years. Beginning as a route sales person in Alabama, he was promoted numerous times, serving as president and chief operating officer of Flowers Bakeries from 1983 until 2002. He was elected president and c.o.o. of Flowers Foods in 2002, c.e.o. in 2004 and chairman in 2006. He is a past chairman of the A.B.A. and held various leadership roles with the G.M.A.
“George Deese is an exceptional leader who has been integral to Flowers’ growth for more than four decades,” said Benjamin H. Griswold IV, presiding director of Flowers’ board. “His insight and collaborative management style have helped create the operating strategies and company culture that set Flowers Foods apart from not only its bakery peers, but also others in the food industry. George’s continued guidance will be essential as the company navigates new growth opportunities while working to preserve its unique culture and strategic direction.”
During Mr. Deese’s tenure as c.e.o., Flowers Foods grew from a regional baked foods company serving 38% of the U.S. population and annual sales of $1.5 billion in 2004 to the second-largest baking company in the country with more than $3 billion in sales and serving more than 75%. Also during this period, $3 billion in shareholder value was created in higher market capitalization and dividends.