March 8, 2022 - CHICAGO, IL Current CMO Judy Ransford is Promoted to CEO and Interim CFO Harlan Kowitt is Hired to Permanent Position
America’s Favorite Food Gift Retailer, Hickory Farms, announced today that Judy Ransford has been named the company’s new Chief Executive Officer and Harlan Kowitt the company’s Chief Financial Officer.
Ransford, who has served as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer and head of ecommerce since 2016, has been promoted to the position of CEO to replace Diane Pearse who announced her retirement in January. During Ransford’s tenure at Hickory Farms, she has been instrumental in the company’s transformation to a more modern, digital brand. She led a complete refresh of the 71-year-old company, introduced new and innovative product offerings aimed at a younger demographic, and drove triple-digit growth in the brand’s ecommerce business.
Prior to Hickory Farms, Ransford founded the ecommerce fashion brand 5 Junes in 2015, a site established to fill a gap in the apparel market for tween girls. From 2008 to 2014, she held a number of key leadership roles at Redbox including Vice President of Digital Marketing, Vice President Customer Programs and Vice President Core Growth Strategy. Other positions included head of Marketing for the catalog marketing brand United Ad Label (an RR Donnelley company) and 10 years as a consultant in Strategy and Technology at Marakon Associates, Perot Systems, and Accenture.
In her new role as CEO, Judy aims to continue growing the company’s presence as an omni-channel retailer as well as maintain Hickory Farms’ strength in wholesale channels. With the recent addition of Wicked Good Cupcakes, a Shark Tank company which Hickory Farms acquired in 2021, the company is expanding its ecommerce portfolio in the growing gifting market. According to Ransford, “Our evolution as a modern, digital gift retailer continues this year with a brand refresh for Wicked Good Cupcakes and product innovations like wine-plus-cupcake pairings.” The brand refresh is slated for later this month.
“I'm thrilled for the opportunity to lead the next chapter of transformation at Hickory Farms,” said Ransford. “As the leader of the ecommerce business since 2016, I've experienced the love that our customers have for our brand and the exceptional talent and commitment of our team. I couldn't be more excited to lead this team and continue to accelerate the growth of our business.”
During Diane Pearse’s nearly six years as CEO of Hickory Farms, she spearheaded three acquisitions including Wicked Good Cupcakes, Gourmet Gift Concepts and California Delicious, and transformed the company from a holiday-only tradition to a premier retailer offering expertly curated gifts for any holiday or occasion year-round.
Hickory Farms is also delighted to promote Interim Chief Financial Officer Harlan Kowitt, who has been a valuable member of the team since October, to a permanent position. Prior to Hickory Farms, Harlan held multiple senior finance roles at US Foods, Inc. including FP&A, Accounting, and Supply Chain Finance. His experience also includes time at Unilever in a variety of finance and purchasing roles, and in Audit with Ernst & Young.
The entire Hickory Farms team would like to congratulate Ransford and Kowitt for these well-deserved promotions as well as thank Pearse for a wonderful six years!
Since 1951, Hickory Farms LLC has been a leading retailer of food gifts and specialty foods available online, in catalogs, and in leading mass merchants, supermarkets, and 500+ seasonal retail shopping locations in the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.hickoryfarms.com or join the conversation on Instagram; Facebook; Pinterest; TikTok or Twitter.