PHOENIX — Veteran retail and grocery executive Jack Sinclair has been named chief executive officer of Sprouts Farmers Market Inc. He succeeds Amin Maredia, who unexpectedly announced late last November that he would step down at the end of 2018.
Sinclair joined Sprouts from 99 Cents Only Stores LLC, where he had served as CEO since 2018. Prior to that, he had been chief merchandising officer of the 350-store single-price-point retailer from 2015 to 2018.
From 2007 to 2015, Sinclair was executive vice president of the grocery division of Walmart U.S., where he was responsible for all aspects of grocery merchandising at the retailer’s 4,000-plus stores in the United States. During his tenure, Walmart U.S. focused on developing local product assortments and an improved fresh food offer, resulting in substantial growth in its grocery business.
Before joining Walmart, Sinclair spent 14 years at London-based Safeway PLC, exercising responsibility for operations, merchandising and marketing for the supermarket and convenience store chain. Prior to that, he served with the United Kingdom’s largest retailer, Tesco PLC. He began his retail career in 1982 as a trainee at Shoppers’ Paradise in the U.K.
“We are extremely excited to have Jack Sinclair as our new chief executive officer following a thorough search and selection process by the board of directors,” says Joseph Fortunato, chairman of the board. “Jack is a proven chief executive officer with an outstanding track record in grocery and retail merchandising.”
Sinclair is joining Sprouts as the natural and organic grocer executes an aggressive growth strategy. In 2018 the company opened 30 stores, and this year’s first quarter saw it debut eight locations, with six more scheduled for the current second quarter.
In April the company announced it would open another 13 stores, including five in Florida, four in California and its first in Virginia, during the second half of this year. The other openings are slated for Maryland, North Carolina and Arizona. The expansion will give the retailer 340 stores in 22 states by year’s end.
“I am humbled and extremely privileged to be appointed chief executive officer of Sprouts Farmers Market,” says Sinclair. “Sprouts is a company with a higher purpose — to empower every person to eat healthier and live a better life — and the commitment of its 30,000 team members to drive lasting change in the communities they serve truly resonates with me.”
Sprouts’ expansion is taking place against a background of recently improved financial performance. In 2018 net sales rose 12% to $5.2 billion, driven mainly by new stores and a 2.1% lift in comparable-store sales. Adjusted net income grew 20% to $168 million.
However, while store expansion is driving impressive top-line growth, Sinclair will need to keep an eye on operating results, which declined slightly during the first quarter of 2019, as gross margin was pressured by cost inflation while operating expenses climbed about 10%.