UNFI COO Sean Griffin announces he will retire this summer after overseeing integration of Supervalu following 2018 acquisition.

4 Min Read
United Natural Foods Inc.

United Natural Foods Inc. on Thursday announced a number of changes within the company’s senior management team, as well as an extension of the CEO's employment agreement.

“Our vision for industry transformation is taking hold as we continue to integrate and provide our customers with scale, services and differentiated distribution alternatives,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steven Spinner. “Development of our talent and succession planning are part of my and the UNFI board’s responsibilities and we are confident the leadership changes being announced will serve as an enabler towards long-term success.”

John Howard, who has served as interim chief financial officer since August, has been appointed chief financial officer, effective Feb. 9. Howard joined UNFI in July 2019 as senior vice president of finance and accounting. Howard will earn $600,000 annual base salary and an annual bonus target of $600,000, based on the company's financial goals, according to the company's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

UNFI names new executives John Howard, Eric Dorne, Chris Testa; Sean Griffin retires; Steve Spinner contract extended

Eric Dorne—the company’s chief information officer and chief administrative officer who oversees the company’s integration office and Canadian business—has been appointed chief operating officer, effective March 8. Dorne joined UNFI nine years ago after spending 27 years with The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. Dorne's salary will be $750,000 and he also will be eligible for an annual bonus equal to his salary based on the company's performance, according to the filing.

Related:UNFI CEO discusses mistakes, expectations at investors conference

Chris Testa, president and chief marketing officer, will take on additional responsibilities leading UNFI’s professional services, supplier services, customer care and the company's Canadian division, and will report directly to Spinner. Testa's base salary also will be $750,000, and he will be eligible for a bonus under the same terms as Dorne.

Sean Griffin, UNFI’s chief operating officer, has announced his retirement effective July 31. Griffin will focus on continuing the company’s business transformation as well as supporting other key business initiatives. He will remain with UNFI as an advisor until November, and receive his full salary and target annual bonus for his time.

“I truly appreciate Sean’s leadership and dedication during his 10 years at UNFI, and particularly over the past 18 months as we have successfully integrated Supervalu at a faster pace than originally anticipated,” Spinner said. “Sean agreed to extend his time with UNFI following the acquisition of Supervalu and we charted our path forward with his guidance. Sean is a tremendous leader and great friend, and we all wish him all the best in his retirement.”

While extending Spinner's contract through July 31, 2021, the company amended his severance agreement. If he is terminated without cause, he will receive twice the total of his base salary and target annual bonus combined; a prorated annual bonus based on performance; and $35,000 for medical benefits. Because he qualifies for retirement, his equity awards will vest in full and his bonus awards will continue to vest, according to the SEC filing.

Spinner's salary is $1.2 million. In December, shareholders approved a compensation package that included a bonus of $759,556, based on the company's adjusted EBITDA. His compensation is weighted so that 85% of his potential pay is dependent on the company's financial results.

In other UNFI executive news, Paul Green, UNFI's chief supply chain officer, will take on a new role as president of the fresh division. As such, he will lead the company’s meat and produce merchandising teams and will report directly to Spinner. Green will continue serving as chief supply chain officer until a successor is named.

Mike Stigers, Cub CEO and executive vice president of the fresh division will transition UNFI’s Fresh teams to Green. Stigers will focus on leading Cub and continuing the sale process for the Minnesota-based grocery retailer and will also report directly to Spinner.

The company is searching for a new chief information officer and chief supply chain officer, both of whom will report to Dorne.

The company is also creating a new senior vice president of brands, role to further build its differentiated and exclusive private brands offerings and oversee UNFI corporate branding initiatives. This position will report to Testa.

About the Author(s)

Victoria A.F. Camron

Digital content specialist, New Hope Network

Victoria A.F. Camron was a freelance writer and editor contracted with New Hope Network from 2015 until April 2022, when she was hired as New Hope Network's digital content specialist—otherwise known as the web editor.

As she continues the work she has done for years—covering the natural products industry for NewHope.com and Natural Foods Merchandiser; writing up earnings calls and other corporate news; and curating roundups of trends and information for the website—she is thrilled to be an official part of the New Hope team. (She doesn't mind having paid holidays and vacations again, though!) Victoria also compiled and edited newsletters, and served as interim content director for Delicious Living in 2016.

Before working as a freelancer, she spent 17 years in community newspapers in Longmont, Colorado, and St. Charles and Wheaton, Illinois. Victoria is a Colorado native and a graduate of Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Subscribe and receive the latest updates on trends, data, events and more.
Join 57,000+ members of the natural products community.

You May Also Like