The chairman of Black & Decker Corp. yesterday announced he will give up the title of chief executive officer in the latest of several high-level management changes at the troubled power tool and appliance manufacturer.
The company said it would replace Laurence J. Farley as chief executive officer with Nolan D. Archibald, currently Black & Decker's president and chief operating officer. The change will be effective after the board of directors gives expected approval to the proposal at its March meeting.
The selection of Archibald follows a year of upheaval during which Black & Decker, which is based in Towson, Md., has experienced a transformation of its senior management in the wake of severe operating problems. The company lost $158 million in 1985, including a $205 million write-off for a huge restructuring program of layoffs, plant closings and refurbishments announced last fall.
Archibald, 42, joined Black & Decker last September after serving as president of the consumer products division of Beatrice Companies Inc. He has had a major hand in designing Black & Decker's strategy to regain profitability. In addition to the restructuring, he has stated the desire to turn the company into a more aggressive, market-oriented firm.
"The company announced a restructuring. Clearly Archibald was one of the key architects of the plan, and he now has been given the assignment to carry that through," said David S. Lebowitz, an analyst at American Securities Corp. in New York.
"I don't think he would have joined Black & Decker if he didn't think he had a shot at running the company," said Franklin Morton, who follows the company for Alex. Brown & Sons in Baltimore. "It was a question of when, not if."
Neither Archibald nor Farley was available for comment yesterday, but a Black & Decker spokeswoman said the move was initiated by Farley, 49, who has been chief executive officer since January 1983.
"He was not forced or pushed . . . It was his recommendation," Barbara B. Lucas, the spokeswoman, said of Farley's decision to give up the chief executive job. "I think he thinks the hiring of Nolan Archibald was one of the best things he ever did for the company," she said.
Lucas said Archibald's ascension probably completes the management turnover at Black & Decker. Since taking the chief operating position, Archibald has hired new executives to head the important U.S. household products and power tool groups, and there had been other previous changes as well. Archibald will retain his chief operating title, and Farley will keep the title of chairman, Lucas said.