BOULDER, COLO. — Steve Hughes has stepped down as chief executive officer of Boulder Brands, Inc., effective immediately. James B. Leighton, the company’s chief operating officer, has been elected by the Boulder board of directors to serve as interim c.e.o. Mr. Leighton has been c.o.o. since October 2013 and has been a member of the Boulder Brands board of directors since August 2007.

Steve Hughes, former c.e.o. of Boulder Brands.

Mr. Hughes, along with Jim Lewis, helped co-found Boulder Brands in 2005 as Boulder Specialty Brands.

“On behalf of the board and entire Boulder Brands team, I want to thank Steve for his contributions to the creation, development and growth of the company,” said Dean Hollis, chairman of the board. “Steve’s passion and vision for Boulder Brands has helped our industry improve the lives of consumers by providing healthier and more transparent food options. Under his leadership, Boulder Brands, which began as a food industry acquisition vehicle, has grown into a leading publicly traded natural consumer packaged food company with a strong portfolio of relevant health and wellness brands.”

Mr. Hollis said the board believed that “now is the time for new leadership” at the company.

“This change, along with the evolving dynamics of our industry, gives us confidence that we are well-positioned to leverage customer and consumer desires for authentic and scalable natural brands to deliver sustainable results and generate meaningful value creation,” he said. “We are confident that Jim Leighton, a highly respected executive with decades of leadership experience across the industry, including at Perdue Foods, ConAgra, The Hain Celestial Group and Nabisco, will provide the immediate leadership necessary to deliver on our commitments to our key stakeholders. Jim has significant and diverse operational and business experience, and has been a valuable member of our management team in his role as c.o.o. during the past two years and as a member of our board since 2007. Jim and I will be actively involved in the company’s operations and strategy during this interim period and we look forward to working closely with the rest of the management team to meet our commitments.”

From 2009 to 2013, Mr. Leighton held numerous general management positions, including president of Perdue Foods. From 2006 to 2009, he was president of operations and supply chain and president of Perdue Foods. From 2002 to 2006, he was the senior vice-president of operations of ConAgra Foods, Inc. He has also held senior level management and executive positions with Celestial Seasonings, The Hain Celestial Group and Nabisco. He was founder and c.e.o. of National Health Management Inc.

James Leighton, currently c.o.o., will fill in on interim basis.

Mr. Hughes agreed with Mr. Hollis that it was time for a leadership transition.

“It has been exciting to watch a simple idea turn into a leading natural foods company with the scale and resources to expand our mission of making people’s lives healthier all across the country,” Mr. Hughes said. “I am proud of what we have created together. I am confident that I am leaving the company in excellent hands with Jim and our strong management team, and I look forward to watching the next phase in the evolution of this great company.”

In taking over as interim c.e.o., Mr. Leighton said one critical objective is to refocus its spending priorities toward consumer marketing programs that will more effectively introduce the company’s brands to a broader base of consumers and better support the brands as distribution gains continue.

Boulder Brands has initiated a national search process to identify a permanent c.e.o.

In addition to the leadership change, Boulder Brands provided an outlook for the second quarter ended June 30. The company’s second-quarter 2015 outlook reflects a reduction in sales trends. For the second quarter of 2015, the company expects net sales to be in the range of approximately $122 million to $124 million. Total company net sales for the second quarter 2015 are expected to decline approximately 5% to 7% compared with the second quarter of 2014.

 Adjusted EBITDA for the second quarter of 2015 is expected to be in the range of $12 million to $14 million, Boulder Brands said.