High Liner Foods President and CEO Rod Hepponstall resigns

High Liner Foods CEO Rod Hepponstall.

High Liner Foods President and CEO Rod Hepponstall has resigned, effective on or before 2 January, 2024, according to a company announcement.

The Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada-based processor and marketer of frozen, value-added seafood, made the announcement on Tuesday, 29 August. The company is one of the largest seafood firms in North America, with its High Liner, Fisher Boy, Mirabel, Sea Cuisine, and Catch of the Day labels available in most grocery and club stores across Canada and the U.S. The Company also sells branded products to restaurants and institutions under the High Liner, Mirabel, Icelandic Seafood, and FPI labels and is a major supplier of private label value-added seafood products to North American food retailers and foodservice distributors.

“The company will begin a comprehensive internal and external search for a president and CEO,” it said. “Hepponstall will collaborate with the company on a transition plan, and the Company will provide more information in due course.”

Happonstall was hired in May 2018 to replace Henry Demone, who remained on the company’s board of directors until his retirement in May 2019. Hepponstall became a company director soon after.

Hepponstall previously worked as senior vice president and general manager of the retail and foodservice business units at Lamb-Weston. Prior to that, he worked as vice president and general manager of the foodservice business unit at ConAgra Foods, which spun off Lamb-Weston into a separate company in 2016.

Before joining ConAgra Foods in 2011, Hepponstall held roles as vice president at Bimbo Bakeries and as senior vice president of foodservice and retail at the North American division of Maple Leaf Foods.

Hepponstall took over High Liner when it was struggling to cope with falling sales volumes and higher material prices. Soon after his hiring, he introduced a five-step “critical initiative plan” and signed off on a reduction in staffing that slimmed the company by 14 percent of its workforce. The company eliminated nine species and more than 240 products from its portfolio in an effort to simplify its operations, and prioritized product innovation and establishing closer relationships with customers.

In 2020, Hepponstall oversaw the settlement of a lawsuit alleging Haven Foods allegedly poached Kroger’s frozen shrimp business, and navigated the difficult early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Q1 2023, High Liner had posted an eight-quarter growth streak, but that ended in Q2 2023 due to market headwinds and softer consumer demand.

High Liner’s stock is publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The stock’s price when Hepponstall took over was around USD 8.30 (EUR 7.65) per share; As of 29 August, its per share price was USD 8.83 (EUR 8.14). Over the course of Hepponstall’s tenure, the stock price reached a high of USD 11.80 (EUR 10.87) and a low of USD 3.95 (EUR 3.64).

Photo courtesy of Rabobank


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