Whole Foods Market has appointed Kohl’s executive Keith Manbeck EVP and CFO, effective May 17. He will succeed Glenda Flanagan, who last year announced her plans to retire. Manbeck will join a leadership team that is “implementing an accelerated plan to enhance shareholder value in a dynamic and increasingly competitive marketplace,” according to a press release from the Austin, Texas-based grocery chain.
Manbeck brings to Whole Foods Market more than 20 years of financial and operational experience, most recently serving as SVP of digital finance, strategy management and business transformation at Kohl’s Corp. since 2014. During his tenure at Kohl’s, Manbeck helped lead key transformation initiatives, including the company’s development of its digital commerce business. This resulted in three years of double-digit comp growth that outperformed industry peers, along with more than 20 percent annual sales growth and more than 25 percent annual profitability growth, according to the release.
Prior to joining Kohl’s, Manbeck served as global VP and CFO for Nike’s direct to consumer business, which under his stewardship delivered significant gross margin expansion, the release says. Under Manbeck’s leadership, which began in 2008, Nike’s direct to consumer business grew to more than $5 billion in sales with double-digit comp growth each year and profits increasing by more than 30 percent each year.
Before joining Nike, Manbeck spent three years with Victoria’s Secret Stores from 2005-08 as VP of finance and finance director. He began his career with Pepsi, holding a number of positions over 12 years and ultimately rising to group finance manager-business performance management.
He holds a MBA in finance and economics from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, a MBA in strategy and accounting from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor of arts degree in business management from Augustana College.
“Keith’s proven experience will be a great addition to our team,” said John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. “Keith has a track record of success at leading retail companies, including Kohl’s and Nike, where he led key transformation initiatives with great results. He is a proven leader who knows how to drive strategic change, while maintaining the culture and values that make a company great. We are confident Keith’s financial and operational expertise will allow him to hit the ground running as we move forward with our plan to improve financial and operational performance.”
Manbeck said, “I am excited to join Whole Foods Market and help the company deliver long-term, profitable and sustainable growth. I have admired Whole Foods Market for many years, both as a customer and as an executive. I share the company’s commitment to delivering nutritious food, a best-in-class customer experience and value for shareholders. I look forward to working closely with the entire board and leadership team to implement financial strategies to support the company’s continued growth and success.”
Flanagan will continue to serve the company in a senior advisor capacity.
“On behalf of everyone at Whole Foods Market, we thank Glenda for her countless contributions and years of dedication, impressive work and friendship. Glenda’s title is smaller than her role. As one of the pioneering female CFOs in the Fortune 500, her head and her heart have been integral to the company that we are today. We are lucky to have her continued service and guidance as an advisor,” said Mackey.
In another announcement this week, Whole Foods Market said it was making a “significant refreshment” to its board of directors by appointing five new independent directors, effective immediately: Ken Hicks, Joe Mansueto, Sharon McCollam, Scott Powers and Ron Shaich.
• Ken Hicks is the former chairman, president and CEO of Foot Locker and has served in leadership positions at several retail companies, including J.C. Penney, Payless ShoeSource, Home Shopping Network and May Department Stores.
• Joe Mansueto is the founder and executive chairman of Morningstar and is recognized for his accomplishments and leadership in business and finance.
• Sharon McCollam is the former EVP, chief administrative and CFO of Best Buy. She brings to the board nearly two decades of experience as a senior leader in the retail and e-commerce sectors.
• Scott Powers held leadership positions at State Street Corp. from 2008-15. He brings a shareholder perspective to the board and more than three decades of executive experience in the financial services industry.
• Ron Shaich is the founder, chairman and CEO of Panera Bread Co.
The company also appointed Gabrielle Sulzberger as the new chair of the Whole Foods Market board and Mary Ellen Coe as the new chair of the nominating and governance committee.
Whole Foods Market says these appointments are part of its board succession and development plan, “a robust refreshment process designed to help ensure that the company’s board has the best mix of skills and experience necessary to support Whole Foods Market’s leadership team in accelerating shareholder value creation.”
With these changes, the Whole Foods Market Board of Directors comprises 12 directors, 10 of whom are independent and six of whom were added in the last seven months.
“With today’s additions to the board, and changes in our board’s leadership, we are well positioned as we enter the next phase of our evolution,” said Mackey. “We believe that we have the right plan—and the right team—to execute on our initiatives at an aggressive pace, deliver results and enhance value for our shareholders.”
The company’s board now includes: Sulzberger; Coe; Shahid (Hass) Hassan, chair of the compensation committee; Jonathan Seiffer, chair of the audit committee; Hicks; Stephanie Kugelman; Mackey; Mansueto; McCollam; Powers; Walter Robb; and Shaich.
In addition to the CFO and board appointments, Whole Foods Market on Wednesday also announced its second quarter 2017 results.