Walter Robb stepping down effective December 31
AUSTIN, Texas – Whole Foods Market co-founder John Mackey will take the reins as sole chief executive officer of the company, as Walter Robb steps down from his post as co-chief executive officer.
Robb, who will officially end his responsibilities as co-CEO on December 31, will remain on the company’s board of directors and will continue to serve as chairman for both the Whole Kids Foundation and the Whole Cities Foundation. He will also continue to be a senior advisor to the company that he has served for 25, the last six as co-CEO.
“Under Walter’s leadership, Whole Foods Market has grown from 12 to 464 stores in three countries,” company chairman John Elstrott said in a statement. “He has been instrumental in accelerating investment in our digital strategy and technology transformation to meet the ever-changing retail landscape. In the past year Walter and John have hired five new senior executives, and have adopted and made significant progress on their nine point strategic plan, putting the company in a strong foundational position for winning.”
“It is impossible to convey what Walter has done for Whole Foods Market since he joined us in 1991,” Mackey said. “His incredible passion for retail and sense of the customer makes him the most extraordinary retailer I’ve had the privilege to work with. During his 25 years of leadership, Walter has been an advocate for the Whole Foods Market culture and a champion for our team members. His genuine love for our mission and our team members truly reflects what it means to be a conscious leader.”
The company’s also announced on Wednesday that executive vice president and chief financial officer Glenda Flanagan, the longest ever serving female CFO of a Fortune 500 company, will retire from the role after 29 years at the end of the 2017 fiscal year. She will continue to serve the company in a senior advisor capacity.
In addition, Whole Foods announced that Mary Ellen Coe, vice president of sales and product operations for Google, has joined Whole Foods’ board of directors.