Several pivotal leadership changes are taking place on the United Natural Foods, Inc. team, including the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer. The distributor recently announced it has tapped J. Alexander (Sandy) Miller Douglas to the role of Chief Executive Officer and a member of its Board of Directors, as former CEO Steven Spinner prepares to retire from the role on August 9. The company also revealed that it has elected Jack Stahl as Independent Chair of the Board.
“I am honored to join UNFI. The company’s vision to transform the future of food has never been more important, and the opportunities in front of us are tremendous,” Douglas said. “Under Steve, UNFI has built a strong foundation for growth, and I look forward to working with UNFI’s exceptional leadership team, the 30,000 hard-working associates across this entire organization, and our Board to continue delivering innovative growth platforms that help make our customers stronger and our operations more successful.”
Before joining UNFI, Douglas served as Chief Executive Officer of Staples, where he helped lead the platform’s strategic transformation while guiding the company through the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a press release, Douglas also held the position of President of Coca-Cola North America, overseeing the $10 billion revenue business. In total, he spent over 30 years at Coca-Cola, also serving as Global Chief Customer Officer and a variety of leadership positions across sales and marketing.
“We are pleased to welcome Sandy as our new CEO and member of the UNFI Board,” said Denise Clark, Chair of the Board’s Nominating and Governance Committee and CEO Succession Planning Committee. “He has a demonstrated track record leading large-scale transformation and growth through strategic, customer-focused action. His extensive experience, which is directly aligned with UNFI’s focus on growing the core business while investing in innovation, make Sandy well-suited to successfully drive the company through its next chapter of growth.”
The UNFI Board has also elected Jack Stahl to serve as Independent Chair of the Board, effective August 9.
Stahl has served in senior leadership positions throughout his career, most recently holding the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of Revlon. He currently serves as Lead Director of Catalent. Stahl joined UNFI’s Board in June 2019 and has served as the Chair of the Compensation Committee since September 2020. As he steps into this new role, Daphne Dufresne has been appointed as the new Compensation Committee Chair, with Stahl continuing to serve as a member of the Committee.
“Since joining our Board, Jack has made meaningful contributions and developed strong relationships,” said Clark. “Jack’s experience in executive and board leadership roles provide a strong foundation for his leadership of UNFI. The entire board looks forward to working closely with Jack and Sandy as we guide UNFI’s growth and support the entire team in their mission to transform the future of food.”
As Stahl takes on his new role as Independent Chair, Peter Roy will step down as the company’s Lead Director, a position he has held since 2019, and will remain an active member of the UNFI Board.
“During Mr. Roy’s oversight as Lead Director, UNFI has met the challenges of a rapidly changing macro environment, the global pandemic, and significant senior leadership changes. His extensive hands-on knowledge of the industry has been invaluable to the UNFI Board over his tenure, and we look forward to his continued service on the Board as the Company transforms the future of food,” added Clark.
The news of Douglas taking over as Chief Executive Officer follows the announcement of Steven Spinner’s retirement. Although stepping down, he will continue to provide management and board advisory services to UNFI through a transition period of up to one year after his retirement.
“It has been my great honor to lead UNFI,” commented Spinner. “I am so proud of what this team, including Mr. Chris Testa, who will continue in his President role, continues to achieve as the largest grocery distributor in North America. With unmatched scale, product and service offerings, and a commitment to innovation and sustainability, I truly believe UNFI is positioned to deliver exceptional value for its customers and stakeholders going forward.”
Michael Funk, Board Member and Co-Founder of UNFI also commented on Spinner’s lasting impact with the distributor.
“We also recognize Steve for his transformational impact on UNFI,” he said. “Since taking the helm in 2008, under his leadership, the company has become the largest grocery wholesaler in the country by acquiring a variety of businesses and innovating new products and services. Steve has navigated this tremendous growth and change the right way, bringing teams together and preserving the culture of UNFI and its core mission and values. As Co-Founder of the company, I personally want to extend my gratitude for all that Steve has accomplished during his 13 years at UNFI.”
Roy also issued a comment wishing his fellow leader well as he moves into his retirement.
“Steve has been a pioneer in the industry and leader of sustainable growth in the food supply chain through progressive environmental, social, and governance commitments that truly are Better for All. The entire Board thanks Steve for his dedication to and leadership of UNFI, and we wish him all the best as he transitions into retirement,” he commented.
Congratulations to all of these leaders on their career evolutions! DMN will continue to bring you the latest news in the industry, so don’t forget to keep a tab open.