Michael Polk, the president and chief executive of Newell Brands, will be retiring at the end of the second quarter. With an annual salary of more than $21 million, he has been running the company and the former Newell Rubbermaid since July 2011, masterminding the merger with the former Jarden Corporation in 2016.
According to a company statement, the board and Polk have agreed that the nearing completion of Newell's Accelerated Transformation Plan provides a good opportunity for a change of management. The board has engaged Heidrick & Struggles to help find a new CEO.
The Accelerated Transformation Plan was meant to restructure the consumer products group into seven divisions, after the acquisition of Jarden: Appliances & Cookware, Writing, Outdoor & Recreation, Baby, Food, Home Fragrance and Safety & Security. To this end, the divestiture of K2 and other former winter sports and fishing tackle brands of Jarden plus Rawlings Jostens and parts of Rubbermaid was intended to generate proceeds of about $10 billion and help pay down debt.
Newell plans to maintain an annual dividend of $0.92 per share through 2019. However, Newell has been posting sluggish sales and missing targets since the acquisition of Jarden. Newell's stock price dropped by more than 20 percent in mid-February, after the release of its fourth-quarter results for 2018. Net sales from continuing operations were down by 6 percent from $2.5 billion to $2.3 billion, while the reported operating margin declined from 5.7 percent to 0.8 percent.
Among the brands that have remained in Newell's portfolio are Coleman, Marmot, Paper Mate, Sharpie, Dymo, Parker, Elmer's, Oster, Sunbeam, FoodSaver, Mr. Coffee, Graco, Baby Jogger, NUK, Calphalon, Rubbermaid, Contigo, First Alert and Yankee Candle.