Robert Pace to replace Henry Demone as High Liner Foods chairman

Published on
April 1, 2019

High Liner Foods has announced Robert Pace will replace Henry Demone as chairman of the company’s board, with Demone planning to retire after the company’s annual general meeting on 14 May, 2019.

Demone twice served as High Liner’s CEO – from 1992 to 2015 and again from 2017 until April 2018, when Rod Hepponstall was named president and CEO of the Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada-based value-added frozen seafood company. Demone has served as chairman of the board since 2015.

"It's been an honor to serve in various capacities at High Liner over the years – this is truly a special Company, with humble roots, great people, and a bright future," Demone said in a press release. "High Liner has evolved, grown, and faced its share of challenges as the industry went through good times and bad.  Throughout, I'm proud of the way that High Liner has persevered, maintaining its customer-focused and innovative drive that has stood at the center of everything we've done since we started almost 120 years ago.  While it's difficult to say goodbye, I know that High Liner is well positioned to return to profitable organic growth under the first-class leadership of our CEO, Rod Hepponstall."

Robert Pace, the president and CEO of The Pace Group, a private holding company, has served on the High Liner board since 1998, most recently working as chair of the board’ audit committee. He also serves as chairman of the board at the Canadian National Railway Company and as a director of several private companies as well as the Atlantic Salmon Federation, an international conservation organization dedicated to the conservation, protection, and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon.

"The board looks forward to Robert's leadership," said High Liner Vice Chairman David Hennigar. "Robert's distinguished career and long history with High Liner will ensure the company benefits from continuity in the chairman role along with strong leadership and strategic vision."

Upon Demone’s retirement, High Liner will eliminate his board position, reducing the total number of board seats to 10.

“The company believes that this is an appropriate board size and is well-aligned with the now-restructured and streamlined High Liner Foods,” the company said. “The board nominees … have the right mix of tenure, experience, and skill diversity, and further the company's progress toward its goal of parity in gender representation on the board, with 40 percent of the nominees being female.”

The 10 nominees for board positions include Joan K. Chow; Robert P. Dexter; Rod Hepponstall; David Hennigar; Jillian Hennigar; Shelly Jamieson; M. Jolene Mahody; R. Andy Miller; Robert L. Pace; and Frank B.H. vanSchaayk.

In its 29 March announcement, High Liner also announced it will reduce compensation for its board members by CAD 35,000 (USD 26,200, EUR 23,300) to either CAD 35,000 or USD 35,000 (EUR 31,200), depending on the residence of the board member. Each board member will continue to receive an equity entitlement equivalent to CAD 50,000 (USD 37,500, EUR 33,300) or USD 50,000 (EUR 44,500), depending on the home country of each member.

David Hennigar, whose position as vice president will be eliminated – though Hennigar will retain a board seat – said in a note to company stockholders that the changes are a result of “headwinds” facing the company. High Liner announced it would lay off 14 percent of its salaried workforce as part of a "realignment" plan in November 2018.

“As you all know, our financial results for the past several quarters have not reflected the company's true potential,” he said. “However, with the right leadership team in place, and our realignment complete, there is palpable enthusiasm throughout the organization. We continue to make progress on our remaining critical initiatives – business simplification, supply chain excellence, and Rubicon alignment and shrimp growth – which together set the foundation for our final and ongoing initiative, a return to profitable organic growth by 2020. I thank all shareholders for their patience and continued support throughout the implementation of this turnaround plan.”

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