Primo Water CEO announces retirement plans for year's end; shareholders approve dissident group's board nominees

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The chief executive of Primo Water Corp., Tom Harrington, announced Wednesday his plans to retire on Dec. 31.

Harrington was listed as age 65 as of Primo’s fiscal 2022 proxy regulatory filing of March 31.

Harrington has served as the company’s chief executive since 2019, leading what was Cott Corp. through its $775 million purchase of Primo of Winston-Salem in March 2020. The company chose to keep the Primo corporate name and brand.

Primo’s board of directors said it will hire an executive search firm to assist in choosing Harrington’s successor. It said it will consider internal and external candidates.

“It has been an honor to lead Primo Water‘s talented team through a critical and transformative period during my tenure as CEO,” Harrington said.

“Our strategy is clearly working, we’re pleased with our past accomplishments, and we’re even more excited about our future.

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“With our strategy in place and exciting prospects for the future, now is the right time to begin the transition to Primo Water‘s next phase of leadership.”

Primo chairman Jerry Fowden credited Harrington with “playing an instrumental role in transforming Primo Water into a leading pure-play water company, leading our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and meaningfully engaging with our stakeholders, shareowners, customers, communities and associates.”

Board of directors vote

Harrington’s retirement announcement comes about a month after Primo reached an agreement with a small stakeholder that would place two nominees on its board of directors, effectively May 3.

In return, Legion Partners Holdings LLC has agreed to nominate Derek Lewis and Lori Tauber Marcus to the board. They would be subject to shareholder approval for an additional term at a special meeting held Wednesday.

On Thursday, Primo released the board voting results, which found that Lewis received 98.73% of the shares casted, while Marcus received 98.71%.

To put that into perspective, former Primo top executive Billy Prim received 96.94% and Harrington 98.3%. All 10 nominees received at least 88.1%.

Primo has agreed to adopt certain corporate governance enhancements, including changes to its advance notice bylaw provisions.

As a result of the agreement, Legion will drop its complaints to the Ontario Securities Commission and the Toronto Stock exchange.

Legion, based in Los Angeles, calls itself a “significant shareholder” in Primo even though its 1.43 million shares ranks 22nd in ownership at 1.5%, according to

Fowden said the board and management team “are committed to ensuring a smooth transition, and we are grateful that we’ll continue to benefit from Tom’s experience and perspective throughout this process.”

“We are focused on identifying a strong leader with a proven track record of operating successfully at scale while defining and executing a growth strategy driven by operational excellence and world-class talent development.”