- Blue Apron has hired Charlean Gmunder as its chief operating officer, the meal kit delivery company announced in a press release on Monday. She started on Nov. 25.
- Gmunder was most recently vice president of catering operations for United Airlines, overseeing 3,000 employees and more than $1 billion in annual revenue. Prior to her work at United Airlines, Gmunder has held positions at Maple Leaf Foods, Chiquita Brands, Promotion in Motion, Premio Foods, National Starch Food Innovation and Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.
- Gmunder succeeds Blue Apron’s former COO Alan Blake, who left the company in June to head up operations at wholesale foodservice distributor Kettle Cuisine.
Blue Apron witnessed a significant shake-up of its C-suite in 2019: Linda Findley Kozlowski came in as president and CEO in April, Irina Krechmer took over as chief technology officer in June and General Counsel Meredith Deutsch was brought onto the team in September. With Blake’s departure and Gmunder’s appointment, the entire executive team has been turned over since May 2018 when CFO Tim Bensley came in, and all of the C-suite officers were external hires.
This year, Blue Apron shuffled up its board of directors in October, bringing on four new members including former Peapod, Amazon Marketplace and Deloitte executives as it embarked on its strategy to rekindle growth during the pandemic. Meal kit companies are operating in a promising but newly competitive space, facing new challengers in the form of national grocers entering the food delivery and meal kit space. Not to mention that restaurants including Chick-fil-A and Denny’s have also been venturing into the meal kit space.
Blue Apron rival HelloFresh has stepped up its game, almost doubling its U.S. customer count in the first quarter of 2020, and the Kroger-owned meal kit company Home Chef responded to a spike in demand by using the grocery chain's facilities, which formerly produced meals for airlines, to make its meal kits.
Blue Apron has had a mixed year, despite its projections that the pandemic offers a unique opportunity for its growth. Kozlowski told investors on the company’s Q3 earnings call in October that their quarterly revenue grew 13% year-over-year and average orders per customer jumped 20%, but the company also saw a 7.5% drop in customers, causing its shares to plummet as much as 29%.
Gmunder’s first priority will likely be to smooth out the kinks in the company’s Q3 operations, which struggled to find available labor to meet the demand for meal kits and faced a $2 million hit due to a supplier’s onion recall. Blue Apron will be looking to ramp back up its menu offerings after having made cuts to meal kit options due to labor shortages.