NEWTON, IOWA -Maytag chairman/CEO Lloyd Ward resigned last Thursday after only 14 months in that post.
The sudden resignation was attributed to "a difference with the board of directors over the company's strategic outlook and direction," Maytag said. Ward's predecessor, Len Hadley, was called out of retirement to succeed him on an interim basis.
Ward, a veteran of Frito-Lay and Procter & Gamble, traded packaged goods for white goods when he joined the company in 1996. He was tapped to succeed Hadley last year after herding such successful product launches as the Neptune washer and Gemini twin-oven range, and subsequently laid out an ambitious plan to cut costs, exploit e-commerce, build smart appliances and expand abroad.
Nonetheless, the fundamentals of Maytag's high-end appliance business began to deteriorate during Ward's tenure, as steeper interest rates slowed big-ticket sales and majaps came under increased pricing pressure. Compounding its problems were Heilig-Meyers' bankruptcy, Circuit City's departure from appliances, GE's aggressive move into online commerce and rumors of an acquisition by Frigidaire parent Electrolux.