|George Deese has been with Flowers Foods for 36 years.|
THOMASVILLE, GA. — George E. Deese, executive chairman at Flowers Foods, Inc., will retire from his current position at the end of 2014, consistent with the company’s management succession plan established by the board of directors five years ago. Mr. Deese will become non-executive chairman of the board and will continue to be involved in the strategic direction of the company. The announcement came following a board meeting held Nov. 21.
Allen L. Shiver will continue as president and chief executive officer. Mr. Shiver has been with the company for 36 years and was elected president in 2010 and c.e.o. in 2013 when Mr. Deese moved to the position of executive chairman.
“In 2013, the board asked that I serve as executive chairman while the company completed the integration of several major acquisitions and growth opportunities, including Tasty Baking, Lepage Bakeries and the Hostess bread assets,” Mr. Deese said. “We also wanted to ensure an orderly transition to the next generation of leadership for our company. I am confident in the integration progress of the acquisitions as well as the operations initiatives Allen and his team are pursuing.”
Mr. Deese said Flowers Foods is well equipped to perform for its shareholders, customers and team members in the years ahead.
“Through many decades, we have invested in our bakeries, distribution networks, products, brands and team to create competitive strengths,” he said. “Our priorities will be to deliver sales and earnings growth and to retain our position as the most efficient baker in our industry. Allen and his team will capitalize on and improve the operating strategies that have allowed our company to deliver significant value creation for our shareholders over the long term.”
Commenting on Mr. Deese's more than 50-year career with Flowers, Mr. Shiver said, “George Deese is a natural leader with deep insight, outstanding judgment and the highest level of integrity. He helped shape our strategies and led the team to deliver outstanding sales and earnings results. Flowers Foods and our shareholders benefitted greatly from George’s leadership, and we are pleased he will continue as chairman of the board of directors.”
Mr. Deese joined Flowers’ sales department in 1964 and was promoted to higher levels of responsibility. He spent nearly 20 years as president and chief operating officer of Flowers Bakeries, the company’s core business.
Also at the board meeting, Flowers announced a 5c increase in the annual dividend rate, which raises the rate 10%, to 53c per share from 48c per share. The dividend is paid quarterly at the new rate of 13.25c per share and the next payment is on Dec. 19, 2014, to shareholders of record on Dec. 5, 2014.
The previous dividend increase, which raised the annual dividend rate to 48c from 45c per share, was announced in May 2014 following the company’s annual meeting of shareholders.
In other actions, the board increased the company’s share repurchase authorization by 7.1 million shares. At the close of the company's third quarter on Oct. 4, 2014, 7.9 million shares remained under the existing authorization. With the board’s action, the current authorization increases to 15 million shares.
“Our business continues to generate strong cash flow, and our balance sheet allows us the flexibility to pursue value-enhancing actions, such as retiring debt, funding capital expenditures, promoting organic growth, making acquisitions and, most important, providing both current cash returns and long-term equity growth to our shareholders,” Mr. Shiver said.
He noted that since the spin-off of Flowers Foods in 2001, the company has returned more than $634 million to shareholders in dividends and invested $478 million to acquire the company’s stock under the repurchase authorization.“The increased dividend and share repurchase authorization announced today indicate our ongoing commitment to a consistent capital allocation strategy that balances returning cash to shareholders and our strategy to fund the company's growth,” he said.