Penn grew up in the poultry industry, beginning in his family’s poultry company. He joined Pilgrim’s in March 2011 and has served as senior vice president of the commercial business group, executive vice president of sales and operations and, most recently, as president of Pilgrim’s USA. Prior to Pilgrim’s, Penn served in management positions at several leading poultry companies.
He will assume the position of president and CEO immediately.
“I am humbled that the board has given me the opportunity to serve as Pilgrim’s CEO,” Penn said. “Pilgrim’s has been on a remarkable journey of growth, building a strong culture of empowerment and providing our customers and consumers with high-quality, innovative solutions that allow them to thrive. We are a global team of more than 52,000, unified in mission and purpose, and I am excited to help guide our team in the next steps of our journey.”
Gilberto Tomazoni, chairman of the board of directors, said: “Jayson Penn has enjoyed a distinguished career in the poultry industry and has played an integral role in the success of Pilgrim’s over the last eight years. Since joining the company in March 2011, Jayson has exemplified the leadership qualities, passion to succeed and business acumen that make him the ideal candidate to assume this role.
“The board’s decision is further validation of Pilgrim’s strategy, implemented in 2012, to create a unique, diversified portfolio across multiple geographies, with a focus on key customers and operational excellence, to generate more consistent and higher margins. Jayson has been at the forefront of this strategy and we are confident in his ability to continue to create shareholder value.”
Lovette will remain available to provide strategic advisory services to the company through July 2020.
“The board is extremely grateful for Bill’s leadership, vision, dedication and commitment,” Tomazoni added. “His legacy at Pilgrim’s will endure through the strong management team and unique business platform he developed, which will position the company for continued growth and success.”
Lovette was appointed president and CEO by the board of directors in January 2011 and, during his tenure, helped grow the business from US$6.9bn to US$10.9bn in annual net revenue.
“I appreciate the commitment and support from our team throughout this eight-year transformational journey to create the company Pilgrim’s is today,” said Lovette. “Jayson has been instrumental in building our strong culture and we back him with our full support.”