PROVIDENCE, R.I.–United Natural Foods, Inc. (NYSE: UNFI) (the “Company” or “UNFI”) today announced a new leadership and organizational structure to sharpen the Company’s focus on key operational priorities designed to better support its customers, suppliers, associates, and the planet as it continues to build the team, capabilities, and technology that are key to its Fuel the Future strategy.
“We are on an aggressive path to drive shareholder value by helping to create sustainable, profitable growth with and for our customers and suppliers,” said UNFI CEO Sandy Douglas. “With positive momentum and a $140 billion addressable market with significant opportunities for selling more to existing and new customers, we are well positioned to attain these objectives. Our high performing, diverse leadership team, new organizational structure and value-based approach will ensure we are devoting maximum managerial talent and focus toward achieving these growth plans.”
Going forward, UNFI’s leadership team will be dedicated to four growth platforms: Services, Wholesale, Retail, and Corporate and Business Transformation, operating under the following leadership teams:
- To achieve significant sales and profit growth through UNFI’s emerging brands and services divisions, Chris Testa will focus on leading the UNFI Services platform, responsible for the Company’s supplier services, professional services, e-commerce, and private and owned brands portfolio.
- Chris will also be responsible for working with Sandy Douglas and the senior leadership team to introduce and lead enterprise-wide growth initiatives accelerating the Fuel the Future strategy. He will continue to report to Sandy Douglas.
- This platform is a key component of the Company’s goal to create compelling value for customers and suppliers by leveraging existing data and capabilities from its scaled and diversified operating business.
- Steve Dietz will lead UNFI Wholesale’s customer growth work, continuing to expand the Company’s customer base and enhance support to existing and new customers. He will report directly to Sandy Douglas, effective August 1, 2022.
- Mark Bushway will lead supply chain, transportation and safety, and Jack Clare will lead information technology. Bushway and Clare will continue to focus on standardization of systems and customer execution. Both will report directly to Sandy Douglas upon the retirement of Eric Dorne on October 29, 2022.
- CUB CEO Mike Stigers will continue to lead UNFI’s owned retail division made up of its CUB and Shoppers banners, reporting to Sandy Douglas.
CORPORATE AND BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION PLATFORM
The leaders of UNFI’s corporate and transformation agenda will be focused on building capabilities for the future, value creation for our shareholders, and long-term sustainable growth for our customers and suppliers. Each of these leaders will continue to report to Sandy Douglas.
- John Howard will lead finance, accounting, tax, shared services, risk, and investor relations.
- Mahrukh Hussain will lead legal, real estate, and cyber security.
- Matt Echols will lead communications, environmental, social and governance, government relations and industry relations, and the UNFI Foundation.
- Danielle Benedict will lead human resources, training, labor relations, diversity, equity and inclusion.
- Louis Martin will lead strategy, transformation, data, and digital experience.
- Brendan Walsh will lead internal audit.
In addition to the above senior leadership team, UNFI has recruited talented leaders to accelerate growth in high priority areas of the business and support its strategy.
- Kristyn Farahmand, formerly SVP Investor Relations and Strategic Finance at CBRE Group, Inc., will report to John Howard and lead UNFI’s investor relations and finance transformation teams.
- Tehzin Chadwick, formerly Global Senior Director of Environmental Health and Safety Compliance at SYSCO, will report to Mark Bushway and lead workplace safety and food safety initiatives across the U.S. and Canada.
- Usman Waheed, formerly Chief Information Officer at Knoll, will report to Louis Martin and lead the Company’s digital strategy focused on customers, suppliers, and associates.
- Angie Balian, formerly VP and General Manager at Weston Foods, will report to Chris Testa and will partner with the brands and services team with a focus on initiatives to accelerate growth, drive efficiencies, and help customers succeed.
- Autumn Price, formerly VP of Government and Industry Relations at Land O’Lakes, Inc., will report to Matt Echols and will lead the newly created government and public affairs team and will partner with UNFI’s leadership team, customers, and industry groups to work with national, state, and local governments, and civil society to advocate for competitive legal and regulatory environments that allow independent and family-owned retailers to invest, grow, and thrive.
“Over the past six months we’ve sped decision-making and flattened our organization, brought in outside leaders to fill new roles, and elevated and focused existing UNFI leaders to create a diverse team that is aligned and motivated to deliver on our Fuel the Future strategy,” said Douglas. “As a key part of the leadership plan, Chris will now be able to give his full attention to our most critical growth areas, our services and brands portfolios. I’m confident our customers and suppliers will benefit with greater value and offerings to their businesses.”
UNFI announced its three-year Fuel the Future strategy to investors in June 2021. The Company enters year two of the strategy with strong momentum and expects to have increased capital allocation flexibility as the Company remains on track to be within its longer-term target net leverage range well ahead of schedule.
About United Natural Foods
UNFI is North America’s premier grocery wholesaler delivering the widest variety of fresh, branded, and owned brand products to more than 30,000 locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, ecommerce providers, and food service customers. UNFI also provides a broad range of value-added services and segmented marketing expertise, including proprietary technology, data, market insights, and shelf management to help customers and suppliers build their businesses and brands. As the largest full-service grocery partner in North America, UNFI is committed to building a food system that is better for all and is uniquely positioned to deliver great food, more choices, and fresh thinking to customers. To learn more about how UNFI is Fueling the Future of Food, visit www.unfi.com.
Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Statements in this press release regarding the Company’s business that are not historical facts are “forward-looking statements” that involve risks and uncertainties and are based on current expectations and management estimates; actual results may differ materially. The risks and uncertainties which could impact these statements are described in the Company’s filings under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including its annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended July 31, 2021 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on September 28, 2021 and other filings the Company makes with the SEC, and include, but are not limited to, the impact and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic; labor and other workforce shortages and challenges; our dependence on principal customers; the addition or loss of significant customers or material changes to our relationships with these customers; our sensitivity to general economic conditions including changes in disposable income levels and consumer spending trends; the relatively low margins of our business, which are sensitive to inflationary and deflationary pressures; our ability to realize anticipated benefits of our acquisitions and strategic initiatives, including our acquisition of Supervalu; our ability to timely and successfully deploy our warehouse management system throughout our distribution centers and our transportation management system across the Company and to achieve efficiencies and cost savings from these efforts; our ability to continue to grow sales, including of our higher margin natural and organic foods and non-food products, and to manage that growth; increased competition in our industry as a result of increased distribution of natural, organic and specialty products and direct distribution of those products by large retailers and online distributors; increased competition in our industry, including as a result of continuing consolidation of retailers and the growth of chains; union-organizing activities that could cause labor relations difficulties and increased costs; our ability to operate, and rely on third parties to operate reliable and secure technology systems; moderated supplier promotional activity, including decreased forward buying opportunities; the potential for disruptions in our supply chain or our distribution capabilities by circumstances beyond our control, including a health epidemic; the potential for additional asset impairment charges; the risk of interruption of supplies due to lack of long-term contracts, severe weather, work stoppages or otherwise; our ability to maintain food quality and safety; volatility in fuel costs; volatility in foreign exchange rates; and our ability to identify and successfully complete asset or business acquisitions. Any forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and, as such, speak only as of the date made. The Company is not undertaking to update any information in the foregoing reports until the effective date of its future reports required by applicable laws. Any estimates of future results of operations are based on a number of assumptions, many of which are outside the Company’s control and should not be construed in any manner as a guarantee that such results will in fact occur. These estimates are subject to change and could differ materially from final reported results. The Company may from time to time update these publicly announced estimates, but it is not obligated to do so.