Natural Foods Merchandiser

Whole Foods announces executive team changes

Citing a need to “keep the executive team together another 10 years,” Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey announced key changes to the leadership team. Walter Robb will join Mackey as co-CEO and participate as a voting board member and A.C. Gallo will become the president and chief operating officer.

These changes follow Mackey’s relinquishment as chairman in December 2009, a move some say was prompted by a Wall Street Journal column Mackey wrote on health care reform and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation of his posts on Yahoo Financial Discussion Boards. In a blog post discussing the executive changes, Mackey said there was no connection between these events.

“I am most definitely not interested in leaving the company or retiring!... It is not about me and there is no connection to last year’s op-ed. While I do regret the brief and unforeseen controversy the essay created for the company, it did not negatively impact our results,” Mackey said.

Mackey did say that because of the SEC investigations and the Federal Trade Commission’s involvement with the purchase of Wild Oats, “he was definitely not having any fun” and felt he was “wasting his time in non-constructive ways.” Mackey re-charged and re-committed to the company, saying he “realized how important it was to keep the leadership team together.”

The board of directors discussed three options in restructuring the executive team; one involving Robb and Gallo joining Mackey as CEO and another as Mackey moving from CEO to chairman alone, a move which Mackey said would be a step backward.

According to Mackey’s blog, duties for the three executives will not change, only their titles will, with the exception that Robb as a new voting member on the board. Gallo, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Glenda Chamberlain and Executive Vice President of Growth and Business Development, Jim Sud will continue to participate as non-voting members of the board.

In addition to the executive changes, Whole Foods released their second quarter financial results. Sales for the Austin, Texas-based natural foods store chain increased 13.1 percent to $2.1 billion in the second quarter. During that quarter, the company also invested $51.7 million towards new stores, three of which were brand new.

In the report, Whole Foods also announced its settlement agreement with the FTC over antitrust challenges regarding the company’s purchase of Wild Oats. 19 Whole Foods stores will be up for sale, including 12 acquired Wild Oats stores.

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