NEW YORK — Online grocer FreshDirect announced that chairman and chief executive officer Jason Ackerman has stepped down, nearly two decades after helping to establish the company.
Cofounder David McInerney has agreed to move into the corner office and will take a seat on the board, the company said in a statement earlier this month.
McInerney has served the company in various leadership roles, most recently as chief merchant. He’s also been the company’s “chief food adventurer,” a role that had him traveling the world to source produce, seafood, meat and specialty items.
“Jason and I have worked together since the beginning, and we are very proud of what we have accomplished over the years,” McInerney said. “I look forward to working with the entire FreshDirect team as we usher the company into this next chapter of growth.”
Earlier this year, the company moved its headquarters from the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City to a new FreshDirect campus in the South Bronx, which includes a 400,000-square-foot distribution and manufacturing complex that will help it innovate on strategies to fend off increasingly intense competition from rivals including Amazon’s Whole Foods Market business.
The company also seeks to improve and expand the FoodKick on-demand delivery service it introduced in 2016 in Brooklyn to deliver smaller orders via bicycle and mopeds within an hour to customers eager to obtain a crucial item or two for a dinner party or special occasion.
FreshDirect’s white delivery trucks serve many New York City neighborhoods as well as the surrounding suburbs. It expanded into the Washington, D.C., area a few years ago and plans to introduce service to the Boston area.
The company helped pioneer what it calls the short supply chain. “Food comes to us straight from the source and is delivered to your door at peak freshness in just a few days. That’s less handling by middlemen — and it puts more money in the bank for local farmers, skilled artisans and responsible fishermen,” its website states.
Ackerman, then 32, was working at a food-focused investment fund in the late 1990s when he and partners developed FreshDirect as a concept for bypassing stores in order to get fresh food into consumers’ kitchens more quickly. The partners sought further differentiation by nudging its customers toward food that is at least partly prepared, and by presenting hundreds of recipes at its website to guide customers’ shopping decisions.
“Over the last 20 years, we have built and grown this business into an industry leader, one that truly makes a difference in the lives of our customers,” Ackerman said this month. “Building FreshDirect and FoodKick alongside an incredible group of talented people has been a tremendous experience. I am confident the team will continue to drive the business forward and stay true to our unwavering commitment to deliver the best quality food with outstanding customer service.”