Lake Success, NY —The board of directors of the Hain Celestial Group, Inc. announced it's hired a global executive search firm to seek a new president and CEO to replace founder Irwin D. Simon.

Simon, 59, will continue for a transition period as non-executive chairman of the board to work with the incoming CEO.

"When I founded the company 25 years ago, one of my goals was to educate and change the way the world eats and lives through a relentless focus on providing organic, natural and better-for-you products to consumers," Simon said in a statement. "I am incredibly proud of the company we have built.  It has been a privilege to lead our dedicated team and drive our mission forward.

"I firmly believe that some of our greatest opportunities lie ahead, and I am confident now is the right time for our next generation of leadership.  I look forward to working with the Board of Directors in its search for the next Chief Executive Officer as we seek to capitalize on our enviable position as a leader in organic, natural and better-for-you products."

The company has focused in the past year on its top 500 SKUs while continuing to make acquisitions around the world.In an interview last fall, Simon said the company had become too big to sell.It reiterated it is on track to complete the divestiture of Hain Pure Protein Corp. during the first half of fiscal 2019.

According to a report in the New York Post, Pilgrim's Pride is one of the preliminary bidders for the business and final bids are due in mid-July. The story speculates a sale price in the region of $700 million.

"Irwin is an incredible entrepreneur and pioneer in the organic and natural foods industry, where he started with a vision and built it into a $3 billion company," said Andrew R. Heyer, Hain Celestial's lead director. The Working Group previously established by our Board of Directors to consider strategic alternatives for the Company, continues to aggressively evaluate its portfolio of businesses, brands and operating strategy to further enhance shareholder value."

Hain Celestial's share price has dropped about 30% since the beginning of the year.