Clorox president Linda Rendle has been elevated to CEO and will join the board of directors, taking the reins as the company navigates the challenges of meeting sky-high demand during the pandemic.
The promotion, effective Sept. 14, is the next step in Rendle’s 17-year tenure at the No. 83 consumer goods company, where she began in a sales role. She replaces Benno Dorer, who has served as CEO since 2014 and was appointed chair of the board in 2016. Dorer will continue serving as the board's executive chair.
Rendle stepped into the role of president of Clorox in May and has held such leadership roles as executive VP of cleaning, international, strategy and operations, as well as senior VP and general manager of cleaning and professional products. She began her career as an account manager at Procter & Gamble.
"I'm delighted that our dedication to thoughtful, long-term succession planning positioned us to appoint such a strong and capable leader as Linda Rendle to the CEO role,” said Pamela Thomas-Graham, lead independent director of the board. “Linda will be an excellent CEO, building on her track record of outstanding business results, her strong oversight of the development of the company's IGNITE strategy and her values-led leadership."
Benno has done a tremendous job leading the company through its 2020 strategy, she noted, adding that it’s operating effectively during the health crisis.
Clorox, which was recently named one of the most essential companies by U.S. consumers, banked the leadership news with its fourth-quarter results, reporting a 22% increase in sales for the period. As expected, sales were driven by elevated consumer demand from COVID-19.
Its health and wellness category sales grew 33%, attributable to increases in disinfecting and cleaning products. Household sales (bags and wraps, grilling and cate litter) grew 17%, while lifestyle sales (food, water filtration and natural personal care) rose 16%. International sales were up 12%.
E-commerce sales now represent 12% of the company’s total sales, up from 8% in fiscal 2019.
Lisa Burham, VP of investor relations, noted in an earnings call that Clorox’s most urgent priority remains aggressively expanding its production capacity to meet consumer demand, anticipating elevated levels for some time. In the near term, this also includes expanding its use of third-party manufacturers.
Although its supply chain remains stable with few COVID-19-related disruptions, capacity challenges persist. As the pandemic combines with the flu season, the company expects it will take a full year before its cleaning and disinfectant business supply levels stabilize.
“This is a pivotal time for the company and there is no better time to be CEO at Clorox,” said Rendle. “What's become even clearer during this pandemic is that we're a health and wellness company at heart. Whether through our disinfecting products that support public health, our vitamins, minerals and supplements that enhance wellness, or other essential products that people count on for their families and homes, I firmly believe that our global portfolio of trusted brands is in a strong position to address the shifting consumer mindsets and behaviors related to health and wellbeing."
The beauty industry was forced to rethink their pre-COVID-19 approach and reimagine customer engagement in an entirely new context during the pandemic that will set the tone for the shopping experience for years to come.