Atlanta-based Acuity Brands made a couple of news announcements between Jan. 8 and 9, naming a new head executive and reporting its 2020 first quarter financial results.
The lighting and building products supplier said that Neil Ashe will become its next president and chief executive officer effective Jan. 31 and will become a member of the board of directors on that same date. Ashe, 52, will succeed Vernon Nagel as CEO, while Nagel will remain with the company in the newly-created role of executive chairman. Ashe will also succeed Richard Reece in the role of president, while Reece will become executive vice president of the company and president of Acuity Brands Lighting — the primary operating subsidiary of the company.
Ashe's appointment culminates a succession plan that began almost a year ago.
"On behalf of the Board, we are extremely excited to have attracted a leader with the skill and experience of Neil to lead our great company in the next chapter of its evolution," Nagel said. "While our succession plan anticipated me as CEO for a longer period, we accelerated our timetable to attract Neil as our next leader. His background and success in leading technology-oriented organizations is an ideal fit for Acuity Brands as we continue our journey to be an industrial technology leader."
Nagel praised Ashe's executive experience, which includes tenures as president and CEO of global e-commerce & technoogy at Walmart, president of CBS Interactive and CEO of CNET Networks.
"I’m honored to be the next CEO of Acuity Brands and I’m pleased to partner with and succeed Vern," Ashe said. "I’ve had the pleasure of leading transformations at some of the most important internet, media and commerce companies. What they all have in common is a commitment to customers, an ability and willingness to innovate and change, and a dynamic and talented group of associates who are passionate about building great businesses. Acuity Brands is a company with a strong strategic, operating and financial foundation. I’m excited to partner with the talented associates of Acuity to take the company forward and to build an even more exciting and dynamic company on this foundation."
Acuity Brands reported 2020 first quarter total sales of $834.7 million, down 10.5 percent year-over-year, while total profit of $57 million was down 28.4 percent.
"While we expected our first quarter net sales to be down compared with the prior year, the decline was greater than previously forecasted due to weaker than expected market demand, which we estimate declined in the low-to-mid single-digit range, with the decline in large projects even greater," Nagel said.