DOWNERS GROVE, ILL. — Sean Connolly has joined Sara Lee Corp. as chief executive officer of the company’s North American Retail and Foodservice business, effective Jan. 17. Additionally, Mr. Connolly will become c.e.o. of MeatCo (Sara Lee’s North American Meats business) following the spin off of its International Coffee and Tea business, expected to be completed in the second calendar quarter of 2012.
“We are very excited to have Sean Connolly serve as the head of our MeatCo business as we prepare for it to become a separate pure-play, publicly-held company,” said Jan Bennink, executive chairman at Sara Lee. “He has extensive experience in the American food industry, coupled with a strong track record as a great innovator, particularly in mature categories. These strengths will allow him to take a fresh look at the business and enable the company to reach its full potential.”

Mr. Connolly currently is president of Campbell North America, the company’s largest division accounting for approximately $4.6 billion in annual revenues. He has held that position since October 2010. Earlier, he was president of Campbell USA and president of North American Foodservice. Mr. Connolly joined Campbell in 2002 as vice-president of Food Brands.

Before joining Campbell, he held various marketing and brand management roles at Procter & Gamble for a decade.

He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Vanderbilt University and a master’s degree in general management from the University of Texas at Austin.

“The North American Meats business, with its leading brands and strong market position, has tremendous opportunities for growth as a pure-play company,” Mr. Connolly said. “I look forward to working with an experienced and talented team to build this successful new company and create value for shareholders.”

Mr. Connolly succeeds Marcel Smits, chief executive officer, Sara Lee Corp., who assumed responsibilities for leading the North American business in September 2011 until a permanent leader was named.