DOWNERS GROVE, ILL. — CJ Fraleigh, chief executive officer of North America for Sara Lee Corp., has resigned from the company to pursue other opportunities. Marcel Smits, c.e.o. of Sara Lee Corp., will assume responsibilities for leading the North American business, and Mr. Fraleigh will assist during this transition.

“CJ played an important role in taking the North American business to this stage in its development,” said Jan Bennink, executive chairman of the board of Sara Lee Corp. “We now believe that a different approach is needed to transition the North American business into a pure-play company.”

Mr. Smits joined Sara Lee as chief financial officer in October 2009 and was named c.e.o. in January 2011.
In January, the company announced its intention to split into two separate publicly-held companies — “CoffeeCo” (International Coffee & Tea) and “MeatCo” (North American Meats). Last week, the company named Michiel Herkemij as c.e.o. of “CoffeeCo.” The company remains on track to execute the spin-off in the first half of calendar 2012.