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US: Hawthorne steps down as Ocean Spray CEO

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Robert Hawthorne has resigned from his position as CEO of the fruit juice producing farmers' co-operative, Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. A company spokesman, Chris Phillips, said the decision was Hawthorne's but the board did feel that it was time for a change.

Hawthorne's position is to be taken by Barbara Thomas, who is already on the board, on a temporary basis until a permanent appointment can be made.

Hawthorne had been trying to boost returns for growers by increasing demand, introducing Ocean Spray's own cranberry juice brand to new markets and launching a white cranberry juice.

The company said earnings under Hawthorne had risen from $59m in 2000 to $158m 2002. However, some members were unhappy with the direction he was taking and wanted the co-op to sell to a larger juice company such as Coca-Cola or PepsiCo which would have the necessary marketing muscle to develop the brand.


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