Chief Operating Officer Jason Buechel to become CEO
AUSTIN — Whole Foods Market co-founder and chief executive officer John Mackey announced Thursday that he will be retiring from his post, effective September 1, 2022. Jason Buechel, who currently serves as Whole Foods’ chief operating officer, will succeed Mackey as CEO.
“Honestly, it’s very hard to retire from a company that I have helped to create, nourish and grow for 44 years when I leave,” Mackey wrote in an letter to Whole Foods employees announcing the move. “As a co-founder of Whole Foods, I’ve often explained my relationship to the company with a parent-child metaphor. As a parent, I have always loved Whole Foods with all my heart. I have done my best to instill strong values, a clear sense of higher purpose beyond profits, and a loving culture that allows the company and all our interdependent stakeholders to flourish. All parents reach a time when they must let go and trust that the values imparted will live on within their children. That time has nearly come for me and for Whole Foods.”
Mackey said he discovered his higher purpose in 1976, when he was living in a vegetarian co-op named Prana House in Austin. Two years later Mackey co-founded a natural grocery store called Safer Way. In 1980, Safer Way and Clarksville Natural Grocery joined forces to open the first Whole Foods Market, which had a staff of only 19. Whole Foods, which was acquired by Amazon in 2017 for $13.7 billion, currently operates about 527 stores (including 14 in Canada and seven in the United Kingdom) and employs more than 105,000.
Mackey said he chose Buechel to be his successor.
“Jason is one of my most trusted partners and I’m incredibly confident that the company will continue to evolve and thrive under his leadership,” he said. “Jason has a number of very special qualities that will help him succeed as our next CEO. Not only is he extraordinarily intelligent with unusually high integrity, he is also a servant leader who lives and embodies Whole Foods Core Values and Leadership Principles and is fundamentally just a good and loving person.
Buechel joined Whole Foods in 2013 as Global Vice President and Chief Information Officer and was promoted in 2015 to Executive Vice President before being named Chief Operating Officer in 2019. In addition to being responsible for the operations of all Whole Foods Market stores and facilities, he also currently oversees technology, supply chain and distribution, and Team Member Services (TMS).