Denise Morrison Quits as Campbell Chief, Further Cutting Female C.E.O. Ranks


Denise M. Morrison, the chief executive of Campbell Soup Co., retired abruptly on Friday after nearly seven years in the job, further shrinking the thin ranks of top female executives at major United State companies.

Keith R. McLoughlin, a member of the Campbell board since 2016, was named to succeed Ms. Morrison on an interim basis, the company said.

In a statement released by the company, Ms. Morrison said, “I am proud of Campbell’s accomplishments and how we have transformed our portfolio amid changing consumer tastes for food and health and well-being.”

Campbell’s share price dropped more than 12 percent, to $34.50, after the company’s morning announcement that Ms. Morrison had resigned. It had bounced back a bit by midday. From the start of her tenure as chief executive in August 2011 through Thursday, Campbell’s share price was up 19 percent, although it had tumbled around 30 percent in the past year.

With Ms. Morrison’s departure, there are now 23 women leading Fortune 500 companies, or 4.6 percent of the total. They include Mary Barra at General Motors, Indra Nooyi at PepsiCo and Marillyn Hewson at Lockheed Martin.

Several women left chief executive positions at major companies last year: Sheri McCoy stepped down from Avon, Irene Rosenfeld retired from Oreo cookie maker Mondelez International, Marissa Mayer resigned from Yahoo and Meg Whitman retired from Hewlett-Packard.

Campbell has struggled on Ms. Morrison’s watch to reverse a slide in sales tied to shifting food trends. The company, which is based in Camden, N.J., even tinkered with its famous chicken noodle recipe in a bid to address the slump.

The news of Ms. Morrison’s retirement accompanied Campbell’s third-quarter earnings report, in which the company said it had recorded a $393 million loss compared with a $176 million profit in the same period a year earlier.

The company, which recently completed its acquisition of the snack maker Snyder’s-Lance, now says it expects its earnings per share for the year to slump 5 to 6 percent after previously projecting a decline of 1 to 3 percent.

Campbell said it was reviewing its business plans and portfolio, which includes brands like Pepperidge Farm, V8 and Swanson. Last month, it announced a strategic reorganization that gave control of key divisions — including soup, beverages and snacks — to Luca Mignini, the chief operating officer.

Last summer, Ms. Morrison was among the business leaders to step down from President Trump’s manufacturing jobs initiative after Mr. Trump equivocated in his public statements about race-related violence in Charlottesville, Va.


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