Segment president at Tyson quits post

Stewart Glendinning, president of Tyson Foods Inc.’s prepared foods segment, speaks during the Tyson Foods annual shareholders meeting at the company's downtown Springdale office in this Feb. 6, 2020 file photo. Glendinning has resigned and will leave the company for a chief executive officer post with fashion apparel retailer Express Inc., Tyson officials announced Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Ben Goff)

Stewart Glendinning, president of Tyson Foods Inc.'s prepared foods segment, has resigned and will leave the company next week for a CEO post with fashion apparel retailer Express Inc.

A Thursday release from Express said Glendinning will join the company on Sept. 15 and will also sit on its board of directors. He takes over for Tim Baxter, who will remain to assist in the transition. Based in Columbus, Ohio, the company's brand portfolio includes Express, Bonobos and UpWest.

According to a filing by Tyson Foods with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Glendinning told the company on Tuesday he intended to resign, with his last day effective Sept. 14, according to the one-sentence document.

"We are grateful for Stewart's contributions throughout his time at Tyson Foods, including serving as Tyson's Chief Financial Officer and President of Prepared Foods," a Tyson spokesman said in a statement. "We wish him continued success in his new role. Prepared Foods continues to be a key growth pillar for Tyson Foods and we have a great team supporting it."

The Springdale-based meat giant has been struggling with profitability in recent months, reporting back-to-back quarterly losses, as it faces pressure in all of its meat segments but primarily chicken. It has closed two poultry plants this year, including one in Van Buren, and has plans to close four more, including one in North Little Rock. The four plants employ about 3,000 workers combined.

In late September 2022, Glendinning, who served as chief financial officer of the company since 2018, was named group president for prepared foods, while John R. Tyson -- son of Tyson chairman John H. Tyson -- moved into the CFO position. In his new role, Glendinning was responsible for the company's prepared foods portfolio, including the Tyson, Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm brands.

Glendinning came to Tyson from Molson Coors Brewing Co. and replaced then CFO Dennis Leatherby, who had been with the company for 28 years. He was paid a sign-on bonus of $2.7 million and annual salary of $750,000, according to SEC documents at the time. In 2022, Glendinning saw total compensation of $4.4 million, down from $5.2 million a year earlier.

Alan Ellstrand, a professor in management and associate dean of programs and research at the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, in response to emailed questions, said as Tyson Foods faces a challenging environment having the right leader in the right position is critical.

"Prepared foods has been a key area for Tyson Foods as this segment generally commands higher profit margins than the commodity products side of the business," Ellstrand said. "Finding the right person to lead this segment is especially important for the company's future success. As Tyson Foods continues to address its challenges it is likely that more personnel changes will occur."

Tyson shares closed at $51.33, down 19 cents, or less that 1%, in trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares have traded as low as $47.11 and as high as $76.23 over the past year.

In August, Tyson reported a loss of $417 million, or $1.18 per share, for its third quarter compared with a profit of $750 million, or $2.07 per share, in last year's third quarter. Tyson said its revenue fell 3% from last year's third quarter, to $13.14 billion. The sales decline was mainly in the pork and chicken segments, Tyson said.

The company reported a loss of $97 million, or 28 cents per share, in its second quarter compared with a year-ago profit of $829 million, or $2.28 a share.

During recent conference calls, company executives highlighted Tyson's moves to modernize and become more efficient across all its operating segments. Tyson President and Chief Executive Officer Donnie King indicated the company would continue to push to improve its performance.

In October, Tyson Foods said it was recalling about 1,000 executives working in its Chicago area and Dakota Dunes, S.D., offices to shift to a more centralized company headquarters in Springdale. About 228 workers in the Chicago area and more than 250 workers in South Dakota chose not to move and left the company. In April, Tyson said it would cut 10% of its corporate jobs and reduce senior leadership roles by 15%.