As part of what it calls “changes to the leadership structure,” Whole Foods Market on Wednesday said that it would do away with its co-CEO structure. It pushes Walter Robb from that position. Co-founder John Mackey will serve as the Austin, Texas-based grocer’s sole CEO.
Robb will remain on the company’s board of directors. He also will continue to serve as chairman for both the Whole Kids Foundation and Whole Cities Foundation. He will officially transition his co-CEO responsibilities on Dec. 31 and will continue as a senior advisor to the company. Robb has served the company for 25 years, most recently as co-CEO for the past six years.
“Under Walter’s leadership, Whole Foods Market has grown from 12 to 464 stores in three countries. He has been instrumental in accelerating investment in our digital strategy and technology transformation to meet the ever-changing retail landscape,” said Dr. John Elstrott, chairman of company’s board of directors. “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.”
Mackey added, “It is impossible to convey what Walter has done for Whole Foods Market since he joined us in 1991. 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.”
In addition, EVP and CFO Glenda Flanagan will retire from the role after 29 years at the end of the 2017 fiscal year. She is the longest-ever-serving female CFO in the Fortune 500, and she will continue to serve the company in a senior advisor capacity.
“Glenda joined Whole Foods Market in 1988 and has helped guide us through significant growth from six stores, to 464 stores and more than $15 billion in sales today,” Mackey and Robb said in a statement. “She has been an outstanding CFO. Her intelligence, wisdom, business acumen, kindness and integrity have been at the heart of everything Whole Foods Market has done and accomplished over the past 28 years. Glenda is deeply loved and respected by us and everyone at Whole Foods Market who has had the opportunity to know her.”
The company also announced Wednesday that Mary Ellen Coe has joined the Whole Foods Market board of directors. Coe is VP of sales and product operations for Google.
“Mary Ellen’s deep experience in marketing, digital strategy and brand strategy is incredibly valuable, and we’re excited to have such a talented leader join our board of directors,” said Elstrott. “We’re confident that her expertise and understanding of the evolving marketplace will benefit the company as we remain focused on strategic investments in marketing and elevating digital experience.”
Whole Foods’ new 365 store leases
The company also said Wednesday that it has signed leases for new 365 by Whole Foods Market stores. They are in Redlands and South Lake Tahoe, California, and Fairfax, Virginia. The stores will feature a simple, affordable and convenient shopping experience and offer the high-quality standards that Whole Foods Market pioneered, according to the company.
“We’re excited to bring our 365 by Whole Foods Market stores to more communities,” said Jeff Turnas, president of 365 by Whole Foods Market. “Shoppers continue to look for convenient, high-quality grocery shopping experiences. We think that shoppers across the country will love this new store format.”
365 by Whole Foods Market previously has announced four locations in California. Its first store opened in May in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, and planned locations include Concord, Claremont and Los Alamitos. The Fairfax store is the first 365 location planned for Virginia.
The first three 365 by Whole Foods Market stores opened earlier this year. In addition to Silver Lake, the other stores are in Bellevue, Washington, and Lake Oswego, Oregon. There currently are 19 store leases in development.