United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) recently announced the addition of three new members to its Board of Directors as part of the company’s ongoing customer- and supplier-focused transformation plan and commitment to strong corporate governance and shareholder value creation. Lynn Blake, James “Jim” Loree, and James C. Pappas will be a part of UNFI’s board as new Independent Directors.
Blake has more than 30 years of experience in the investment industry and deep financial and strategic expertise. Most recently, she served as Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of Global Equity Beta Solutions for State Street Global Advisors.
Effective September 28, 2023, Blake, Loree, and Pappas will temporarily increase UNFI’s board to 14 directors, 13 of whom are independent under the company’s director independence standards, before reducing back to 11 members effective at the upcoming 2024 Annual Meeting.
Loree is a seasoned transformational leader with more than four decades of experience across two global diversified industrial and consumer products businesses, General Electric and Stanley Black & Decker, where he most recently served as President and Chief Executive Officer.
Pappas founded JCP Investment Management in Houston in June 2009 and is the Managing Member and owner of the firm.
In connection with a Cooperation Agreement UNFI entered with JCP, the release noted, the board will also oversee a financial review designed to enhance the company’s performance and drive shareholder value creation. Both actions are aimed at accelerating UNFI’s transformation and positioning the company for both near- and long-term success.
“We appreciate the constructive dialogue we have maintained with UNFI over the past several months and are pleased to have come to this agreement with UNFI in connection with the refreshment of the board with new, independent shareholder representatives,” Pappas, the Founder and Managing Member of JCP, stated. “With UNFI’s leading position in the grocery food distribution market, substantial assets, and consistent free cash flow, the company has significant opportunities to create long-term shareholder value. As a Director, I look forward to being a part of the board-led review and assisting with the company’s transformation efforts as the refreshed board helps set UNFI on the path to meaningful shareholder value creation.”
The appointment of the three new Independent Directors reflects UNFI’s commitment to ongoing board refreshment and shareholder engagement.
“Lynn is a seasoned investor who will play a pivotal role in the board’s capital allocation and investment decisions and the company’s broader efforts to enhance shareholder value, and who will also benefit our sustainability-focused business initiatives by virtue of her five-year tenure as a member of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board’s (SASB) investment advisory group,” Jack Stahl, Chairman of UNFI’s Board, said. “Jim is a proven executive and public company Director with extensive experience overseeing periods of rapid growth and strategic transformation at Stanley Black & Decker. And James’ input and insight in the areas of strategy, capital allocation, and corporate governance, combined with his deep knowledge of our sector, have already been extremely valuable. We expect each of them to make significant immediate contributions to our Board as we create and deliver sustained value for shareholders and all stakeholders.”
With these appointments, UNFI’s Board will temporarily increase to 14 directors, 13 of whom are independent under the company’s director independence standards, before reducing back to 11 members effective at the upcoming 2024 Annual Meeting.
“Our board and management team believe that the transformation plan we previously shared will deliver value for UNFI shareholders through unifying and modernizing our systems, enhancing digital offerings to meet new omnichannel trends, automating and optimizing supply chain capabilities, and delivering profitable growth,” Sandy Douglas, Chief Executive Officer of UNFI, commented. “Further, we are taking decisive action to right-size our cost structure. Alongside these step-change improvements to our business, we believe there may be additional actionable opportunities to focus our operations and create further value for shareholders. Our board is committed to looking at these areas as we continue to move forward with our transformation into a technology-enabled food retail services company.”
Click here to learn more about the appointments.
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