THOMASVILLE, GA — Flowers Foods announced three senior leadership changes and the election of two new board members.

Heeth Varnedoe, current COO of Flowers, will serve as president and COO. During his time at Flowers, he has held several management roles, including chief transformation officer, senior VP of DSD regions/sales and president of the company’s Phoenix bakery.

“Congratulations to Heeth on his well-deserved promotion,” said Ryals McMullian, chair,  CEO and president of Flowers Foods. “Over the last few years, Heeth has overseen a number of transformative initiatives at Flowers and has proven himself to be an extremely capable senior executive. Going forward, Heeth will be taking on a number of additional responsibilities, and I am supremely confident that he will continue to make significant contributions to our success.”


Terry S. Thomas will resign from his position on the Flowers’ board after three years of service to join the company in the newly created position of chief growth officer (CGO). Thomas will be responsible for leading growth initiatives, product development and innovation, and more. He brings experience in consumer goods, most recently serving as global chief customer officer at Unilever. Prior to this role, Thomas served in leadership positions at PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gambel and more. As CGO, he will report to McMullian.

“I’m looking forward to working directly with Terry to uncover new revenue streams for the company, one of the key responsibilities of his role,” McMullian said. “Terry’s global experience working at a senior level for some of the most respected CPG companies in the world will be invaluable to us as we continue to transform Flowers into a consumer and brand-centric company.”

Varnedoe and Thomas will assume their new roles on Sept. 1


Penny Patterson-Smith has been promoted from senior VP, cake brands to the newly created role of chief innovation officer.

Patterson-Smith will lead R&D initiatives, product lifecycle management, innovation, renovation and agile teams. She will also drive new innovations that meet the needs of consumers, pique the interest of retailers and grow sales for the company, distributors and the category.

“By creating this role, Flowers is clearly defining an ambition,” Patterson-Smith said. “We have great brands within our portfolio, and we have a portfolio strategy that’s working. A great foundation for us, certainly. And, now we’re ready for more.”

Before joining Flowers in January 2020, Patterson-Smith served as associate brand manager of Nabisco and as director, global chocolate innovation at The Hershey Co.


Effective Oct. 1, the Flowers Foods board of directors will include two newly elected independent directors.

Brigitte King, global chief digital officer at Colgate-Palmolive Co., and Joanne Smith, executive VP and chief people officer of Delta Air Lines, will join the board and serve on the audit and finance committees.

“On behalf of the entire board of directors, I’d like to welcome Brigitte and Joanne as the newest Flowers board members,” McMullian said. “The expertise and perspective they bring will add significant support for two of our four strategic priorities: focusing on our brands and developing our team. Their guidance will be a great benefit to the board — and the more than 9,000 Flowers employees — as we work to become a more agile and innovative company.”