- Mars CEO Grant Reid is retiring in September, the company announced Wednesday. Poul Weihrauch, global president of Mars Petcare, will succeed him.
- Weihrauch is a company veteran, first joining Mars in 2000 as the European brand leader for Snickers. He became the global president of Mars Petcare in 2014, and has overseen significant growth in the division, including the $9.1 billion acquisition of animal hospital company VCA in 2017.
- Reid, who has worked for Mars 34 years and served as CEO for eight, told the company’s board he intended to retire 18 months ago.
After a long career at the privately owned food and confectionery giant, it’s not surprising that Reid is retiring. And, considering the company’s recent milestones, including announcing a state-of-the-art candy and snack R&D hub adjacent to the company’s Goose Island headquarters in Chicago, he’s going out on a high note.
In Reid’s time at Mars, sales grew by more than 50% to reach nearly $45 billion, board chair Frank Mars said in a statement. The number of employees increased from 60,000 to more than 140,000. And Mars was able to break into new areas, including veterinary health, pet services and healthy snacks.
In the food space, Reid oversaw large deals that helped transform Mars. He led the company as it purchased the remaining shares of Wrigley in 2016 and formally combined the two into Mars Wrigley. Under his leadership, Mars also got into the healthy snacking realm, taking a minority stake in Kind in 2017. This led to its full acquisition of Kind in 2020, in a deal that reportedly valued the clean label snacking company at $5 billion.
Outside of products, Mars has also set ambitious sustainability goals under Reid’s leadership. In October, the company pledged to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its entire value chain by 2050. This was a significant step up from its previous goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 67% in that time period.
“He has been a tower of strength, helping us charter new courses and pushing us beyond what we thought possible,” Mars said in the statement about the transition. “He’s represented Mars on the global stage, particularly around climate change, and he has ensured that we are known for acting, not just making commitments.”
Reid will continue to represent Mars until the end of the year at large events, including the United Nations General Assembly/Climate Week NYC and U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP 27).
Incoming CEO Weihrauch has experience with growing sales, breaking into new areas, making big deals and pushing a sustainability agenda. During his tenure at the head of the global petcare division, the size of its business doubled. And those numbers aren’t small. While Mars is often thought of a confectioner, it is also the world’s leading pet food company, according to Statista, and also one of the largest providers of veterinary care.
Not only does Weihrauch have significant experience with the food side of the company, but as a veteran he also knows the depth and breadth of Mars’ mission and divisions. From being a food provider to doing groundbreaking research in matters of nutrition, sustainability and food ingredients, Mars is a large player in diverse aspects of the business.