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Whole Foods makes changes to board

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Company names new board chair and CFO in shakeup

Whole Foods makes changes to board
AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market shook up its leadership structure on Wednesday, replacing five directors, naming a new board chair and making official the hiring of a new chief financial officer.

The management shake-up was described as part of the company’s “accelerated path to delivering shareholder value.”

John Mackey, chief executive officer of Whole Foods, also outlined several initiatives aimed at helping the company he cofounded in 1978 meet newly stated financial goals for 2020 that aim to satisfy shareholders who’ve become increasingly impatient with stagnating sales amid the erosion of Whole Foods’ competitive position.

“We are accelerating our path to enhanced value creation to deliver better returns for our shareholders,” Mackey explained in a statement. “Today’s announcement is a powerful combination of accelerated initiatives and new cost savings with clear timelines to deliver.”

Initiatives identified by Mackey include introduction of a customer loyalty program at its U.S. stores by the end of 2017; increased reliance on data analytics to guide purchasing, with a goal of “lower costs, lower prices and higher sales”; and $300 million in cost savings by the end of 2020.

Mackey’s 2020 plan calls for sales of $18 billion, up from about $16 billion last year, and comps increasing by 2% or more.

The new CFO is Keith Manbeck, who arrives from the Kohl’s department store chain, where since 2014 he has been senior vice president of digital finance, strategy management and business transformation.

Gabrielle Sulzberger, a Whole Foods board member since 2003, was named the board’s new chair.

The new board members are Ken Hicks, Joe Mansueto, Sharon McCollam, Scott Powers and Ron Shaich.

“The five new independent directors have distinguished track records as value creators and as experienced leaders,” Sulzberger said in a statement. “Our new directors join a board that is focused on being responsive to our shareholders and is committed to achieving the significant opportunities ahead.”

Whole Foods on Wednesday also released its second quarter earnings report. Total sales increased 1.1% to a record $3.7 billion despite a 2.8% decline in comparable-store sales and a 3% drop in the number of transactions in the period. The company attributed the declines in part to Easter falling in the company’s third quarter this year.


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