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General Mills names Jeffrey Harmening Operating Chief

June 24, 2016
Food & Drink

General Mills Inc. on Thursday named 22-year company veteran Jeffrey Harmening as its new chief operating officer as it struggles to restore growth in its U.S. retail business.

The company said Mr. Harmening, 49 years old, will take responsibility for all of the company’s operations effective July 1 and will continue to report to Chief Executive Ken Powell.

“The timing is right to bring together overall operations under one leader,” Mr. Powell said.

The 150-year-old food company said that would include its U.S. retail business, which has been struggling recently as consumer buying habits shift toward portable, higher-protein, meals for breakfast such as Greek yogurt and breakfast sandwiches instead of processed oats and grains.

Mr. Harmening has served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the U.S. retail segment for the past two years. He was previously the chief executive of Cereal Partners Worldwide SA, a joint venture with Nestlé Inc., based in Switzerland. Before that, Harmening served as president of General Mills’s cereal operating unit and in various U.S. marketing roles.

The company said it would name Mr. Harmening’s successor at a later date.

General Mills also changed its labels in March to indicate on its foods whether they contain genetically modified organisms, ahead of a Vermont law that will mandate it as of July.

Earlier this month, General Mills said it would recall more than 10 million pounds of flour as a precaution, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was investigating an E.coli outbreak that likely began with flour made at a General Mills plant in Kansas City. General Mills said it was recalling several lots of its Gold Medal, Wondra and Signature Kitchen brands sold in major supermarkets like Albertsons Cos., Safeway Inc. and Jewel-Osco.

General Mills stock rose 0.1% to $66.49 early Thursday. The shares have gained 9% over the past three months.

By Brittney Laryea

Source: Wall Street Journal

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