Irwin Simon, who founded Lake Success-based organic food product company Hain Celestial a quarter of a century ago, will step down as chief executive officer, the company announced on Monday.
The decision marks another big shift in leadership for the company, whose acquired brands range from Avalon Organics and Better Beans to Lima and WestSoy. Hain Celestial, while experiencing shifts in its board of directors since Engaged Capital entered a cooperation agreement with the company in 2017, had retained Simon as its CEO and president.
In a statement, the company said it is working to find a successor. Once one is found, the company said, Simon will become a nonexecutive chairman and work with the incoming CEO during a transition period.
“When I founded the company 25 years ago, one of my goals was to educate and change the way the world eats and lives through a relentless focus on providing organic, natural and better-for-you products to consumers,” Simon said. “I am incredibly proud of the company we have built. It has been a privilege to lead our dedicated team and drive our mission forward.”
According to an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Simon will be entitled to $34.29 million and a continuation of insurance benefits after departing the company.
He will also become the nonexecutive chairman of the board for 90 days, the filing goes on to say, which could be extended under the discretion of Simon and the board. During that time, Simon could receive an “annual cash retainer fee of $100,000, payable on a quarterly basis.”
“Irwin [Simon] is an incredible entrepreneur and pioneer in the organic and natural foods industry, where he started with a vision and built it into a $3 billion company,” Andrew Hayer, the lead director of Hain Celestial, said in a statement. “On behalf of the Board of Directors and the entire Hain Celestial team, I want to thank Irwin for his vision, leadership, commitment and tremendous contributions over his distinguished 25-year career since founding Hain Celestial.”
Hayer added that the board “is committed to conducting a thorough and comprehensive search” for a new president and CEO.