McCormick said Monday that Alan Wilson, the spice company's chief operating officer, will take over as chief executive as of Jan. 1, replacing Robert Lawless, who plans to retire as CEO.
Lawless will continue to serve as chairman of the board.
Wilson will become a member of the board Nov. 27.
Wachovia food analyst Jonathan Feeney said Wilson's knowledge of the company and broad experience should make for a smooth transition.
"No obvious implications other than the departure of a well-liked and highly optimistic CEO," said Feeney in a research note. "We think Alan is equally competent and perhaps more conservative by nature. We would expect relations with investors could take on a more conservative tone, without much effect on stock."
McCormick shares were down 14 cents at $35.83 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.