THOMASVILLE, GA. — “There has been a clear shift of the collective mindset of Flowers,” said A. Ryals McMullian, who next week will become chief executive officer of Flowers Foods, Inc.
In a call with investment analysts, Mr. McMullian briefly offered his perspectives on progress Flowers has made in recent years and where the company is headed.
He said the company has shifted “from one that was really more operationally and technically focused to one that’s now deeply strategic, forward-looking and accountable for executing with excellence.”
He continued, “It’s truly exciting and very satisfying to be a part of this shift and to see it start to generate meaningful results.”
Mr. McMullian will succeed Allen L. Shiver as c.e.o. During the call, Mr. Shiver expressed pride over a 40-plus-year career at the company and changes achieved during his tenure at its helm.
“Over the past four decades, I’ve come to deeply appreciate the talent and the dedication of the Flowers team, and it has been a great honor to work with them,” he said. “Our team has grown this company from a regional baker to a national powerhouse with leading brands, strong customer relationships and a valuable partnership with our independent distributors. I believe Flowers has never been in a better position for the future.
“Since launching Project Centennial in 2017, our company has restructured into a more brand- and consumer-focused organization, and we continue to take actions to improve efficiencies and enhance profitability. With our transformation well underway and solid momentum in our business, it’s the right time for this leadership transition.
“Ryals and I have worked closely together for many years, and I know that I’m leaving the company in very capable hands. Ryals has been a driving force behind the efforts to extend the company in the growing segments within our category. As chief operating officer, he has done an outstanding job aligning the team behind our strategic goals and in driving operational improvements. Ryals has been working closely with me to prepare for this transition. I’m confident he is the right choice to take the helm at this exciting and important time in our company’s history.”
For his part, Mr. McMullian tipped his cap to Mr. Shiver for his years of service and for showing the fortitude necessary to launch and execute Project Centennial, Flowers’ multi-year restructuring initiative.
“I just want to say that I am deeply honored to accept this new responsibility,” he said. “I want to thank the board of directors, our team and our customers for their support during this transition, which takes place next week.
“But in particular, I want to thank Allen. I want to thank him for having the courage to set us on the course we find ourselves on today. It took a lot of conviction to embark on what ultimately became Project Centennial and to up the long-standing notions of what success looks like in our company and in our industry. He’s created a really solid foundation for us to build on, and for that, we are in a debt of gratitude.
“The transformation underway here at Flowers is a major undertaking, but it’s also absolutely necessary if we’re going to compete effectively in a complex 21st century marketplace. Good progress has been made over the last two years. Our savings initiatives and our org restructuring have generated cost savings that, along with improved price realization, have helped us to offset some of the inflationary pressures we’ve seen more recently. But these things also enabled us to make brand investments to drive above-category growth and increase our market share, actually achieving record market share this quarter.
“And our realigned organization has clarified accountability and driven our team to be hyper focused on building powerful brands, connecting meaningfully with our consumers and improving our profitability. And we’re gaining new insights from enhanced analytical capabilities that help to provide heightened transparency in our business but also inform better strategic decision-making. So across the company and across functions, we’re taking fresh approaches to solving business challenges.”