Grant Reid, the chief executive of Mars’ expansion from candy and pet food to veterinary services and healthier snacks, is leaving after eight years of what the family-owned American business called “unprecedented” growth.
Poul Weihrauch, who now runs Mars Petcare, will take over as chief executive at the end of September, while Reid will retire at the end of the year, the company announced Wednesday.
The Virginia-based, highly privatized group marked its succession by partially understanding its financial metrics, saying its annual sales rose more than 50% during Reed’s tenure, from more than $28 billion to nearly $45 billion .
That would give Mars more revenue than Coca-Cola and would far outpace the revenue growth reported by other global consumer goods companies like Nestlé, Unilever or Mondelez over the same period.
Some groups have responded to the challenge of achieving continued organic sales growth by divesting parts of their portfolios, such as Kraft Heinz’s sale of its planter Peanut brands, or through breakups, such as Kellogg’s suggested this week.
Mars also hinted that rapid growth in its pet care business has led it to hand over control to the head of the unit at a time when the shift to healthier treats has led to tepid growth in candy sales globally.
The group said Weihrauch, from Denmark, has doubled pet care sales since taking over the division behind Iams and Whiskas in 2014, making it the industry’s largest and raised its share of revenue from services to 20 percent from 5 percent. %.
Some of that growth came from acquisitions.Mars has owned the pet food brand since 1935, but Reid and Weihrauch oversaw major expansions in its veterinary business, including a 2017 $9.1 billion acquisition of VCA, 800 pet hospitals, and push the business to Europe. Half or half of the group’s 140,000 employees now work in the veterinary industry.
Reid’s imminent retirement has prompted rare public comments from the two remaining members of the third generation of the Mars family, who have described the Scotland-born outgoing chief executive as a friend to make necessary changes to the company.
Jacqueline Mars, 82, said: “His values and character fit very well with the family and he had a great sense of humour and helped us through some tough challenges.” John, 86 Mars praised his “healthy dissatisfaction with the status quo”.
Forbes puts the Mars family’s wealth at $94 billion, estimating it is the third-richest dynasty in America after the Waltons and Kochs.
As CEO, Reed hopes to Inspiring other business leaders to combat the effects of climate change. Mars pledged last year to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
During his tenure, the U.S. conglomerate’s executives were also bought by Luxembourg-based private investment group JAB Holdings, leading to tensions briefly publicized in 2020 when Mars sued JAB and one of its executives over alleged theft of pet care trade secrets . JAB denied the claims, and the case was eventually brought to arbitration.