Mad Money

Hain Celestial CEO expands on deal with activist firm Engaged Capital, millennial strategy

Key Points
  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer checked in with Hain Celestial's Irwin Simon to hear more about the company's deal with activist outlet Engaged Capital.
  • After agreeing to add six of Engaged's recommended board members to Hain's ranks, Simon said they would be "very, very helpful" to himself and the company.
  • Simon also commented on the Amazon-Whole Foods tie up and Hain Celestial's biggest consumer base, millennials.
Hain Celestial CEO on Engaged Capital deal
Hain Celestial CEO on Engaged Capital deal

In the wake of a deal between Hain Celestial and activist firm Engaged Capital, Hain Celestial Chairman, President and CEO Irwin Simon seemed pleased at the outcome.

"We got six new board members, six new board members with a lot of industry experience ... which is going to be very, very helpful to the company, very, very helpful for me from an international standpoint," Simon told CNBC on Monday in an exclusive interview with "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer. "I look at it as six new, independent board members for Hain Celestial's shareholders."

Simon highlighted some of the new board members' affiliations with Nutrisystem, Conagra Brands and Wal-Mart.

Having previously dealt with activist investor Carl Icahn, Simon said he was open to Engaged Capital's recommendations when the firm disclosed its 9.9 percent stake in Hain in June.

"They stepped up. They were very, very smart. They bought the stock in the $30s," Simon told Cramer. "Hey, you've got to give them a lot of credit. They've brought some great ideas."

While those ideas don't seem to include the sale of Hain to a larger player in the grocery space, Simon didn't explicitly deny that possibility.

"There's a lot of hidden jewels within Hain. And it's not about selling the company, it's [about] building for shareholder value and continuously changing the way the world eats. Listen, we're a public company. Every public company's for sale, OK?" Simon said. "And ... there's a lot of great things within Hain that most consumer packaged goods companies are missing."

The CEO said a lot of consumer packaged goods companies are hesitating to commit to growth due to a pressured, low-margin environment. Private-label brands are doing well because consumer packaged goods companies simply aren't innovating, he said.

But the $13 billion tie-up between Amazon and Whole Foods will change things, Simon contended.

"The Whole Foods-Amazon deal woke up a lot of retailers," he told Cramer. "I think the combination of the both of them will be great for the industry."

So as Simon looks forward at his evolving strategy for Hain, he said he wants the company to focus on innovating, introducing new products and packaging, and staying sustainable while investing in the business, all key initiatives tailored to Hain's largest consumer base.

"Millennials are our biggest consumer base, OK? Millennials buy brands. But you've got to keep millennials happy. You've got to give them good pricing, good value," Simon said. "Board members are endorsing my strategy, but most important is consumers [have] got to endorse my strategy because they're the ones buying the products. They're the ones driving the sales. And ultimately, you know what sales do: drop to the bottom line."

Watch Irwin Simon's full interview here:

Hain Celestial CEO expands on deal with activist firm Engaged Capital, millennial strategy
Hain Celestial CEO expands on deal with activist firm Engaged Capital, millennial strategy

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