Sara Lee (NYSE:SLE) announced on Monday the departure of CEO Brenda Barnes, who had been on medical leave after suffering a stroke.
The baked goods company said it has initiated a process to find a successor for Barnes and is looking at both internal and external CEO candidates.
In the meantime, Marcel Smits will stay on as interim CEO, a position he took after Barnes stepped away from the company in May. Mark Garvey will also stay on as interim chief financial officer and chairman James Crown remains in his position.
"We fully support Brenda’s decision to step down as chairman and CEO so she can devote all of her time and energy toward improving her health,” Crown said in a statement. “She is a remarkable leader who is admired by those inside and outside of the Sara Lee family, and we fully understand and respect her decision. We will conduct a thorough process to identify a CEO successor in a timely manner, and look forward to sustaining the momentum begun under Brenda’s leadership.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, the likely internal candidates to replace Barnes are Smits and Christopher John Fraleigh, head of the North American retail business.
After Barnes went on medical leave on May 14 for an undisclosed reason, Sara Lee explained in June that she had suffered a stroke.
Sara Lee’s shares were unmoved by the announcement, easing 0.1% to $14.82. The company’s stock has been virtually flat since Barnes went on leave, losing 0.2% of its value over that span.