The decision to name Mr. O'Brien, 46, former president of ConAgra's Grocery Foods Group, comes as part of yet another round of changes as the former commodity agriculture company tries to remake itself into a premier package goods marketer. That mission, not yet achieved according to industry observers, has sparked many re-organizations at the Omaha-based marketer over the last five years.
Mr. Thrasher, 53, came on board in mid-2001 to help CEO Bruce Rohde streamline operations and reduce costs. Now, while ConAgra credits Mr. Thrasher in its announcement for helping evolve the business, specifically naming his achievement in realigning its retail sales force, it is placing its bets on Mr. O'Brien.
Mr. Rohde in a statement said Mr. O'Brien "has what it takes to fast forward our retail efforts to the next level."
ConAgra said Mr. Thrasher is leaving to "pursue other opportunities."