- Fresh Thyme Farmers Market president and CEO Chris Sherrell has announced his resignation from the company, according to a press release. A company spokesperson confirmed his immediate departure in an email to Grocery Dive.
- Sherrell has been with Fresh Thyme since it was founded in 2012, helping the natural grocer grow to 77 stores in 11 states, primarily the Midwest.
- Retail veteran Gerald Melville will succeed Sherrell beginning Monday. He comes to Fresh Thyme following a role as regional vice president of stores at Meijer, where he oversaw operations for nearly 50 supercenters in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Sherrell’s abrupt resignation follows reports last week that Fresh Thyme would close three stores in Nebraska and Iowa in November. The company cited poor performance for the stores.
While the closures don’t necessarily indicate widespread troubles for the natural grocer, they also didn’t reflect well on Sherrell’s tenure after fairly aggressive expansion in the last several years. It doesn’t appear that Sherrell is being forced out, however. In a statement, he noted he is ready for his next challenge now that Fresh Thyme has matured.
Sherrell has deep roots in natural and organic retailing. He spent a decade with Wild Oats, the chain Whole Foods acquired in 2007, before starting Sunflower Farmers Market. That chain sold to Sprouts Farmers Market in 2011 and Sherrell jumped to Fresh Thyme in 2012. In 2014, Fresh Thyme opened its first location in the Chicago suburbs.
Meijer, the supercenter chain headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been an investor in Fresh Thyme since the specialty chain's founding. A local media investigation claims Meijer started the chain and held ownership under a subsidiary.
Melville won’t be the first Meijer executive to join Fresh Thyme this year. Tod Pepin, who was hired as chief merchandising officer in June, came to Fresh Thyme from Meijer after serving as the company’s senior vice president of foods merchandising.
In addition to Melville’s time with Meijer, he has served in senior leadership roles in customer service, store operations, food safety, asset protection and labor with Albertsons and Supervalu.
Jeff Wells contributed to this report.