- FreshDirect co-founder and CEO David McInerney has stepped down from the top post at the online grocer, effective Wednesday, parent company Ahold Delhaize announced in a press release.
- Farhan Siddiqi, Ahold Delhaize's chief digital officer, will take over as interim CEO as the company searches for a new chief executive. McInerney will continue in an advisory role with FreshDirect through the end of October.
- Five months after acquiring the online grocer, Ahold Delhaize noted FreshDirect is entering "its next phase of growth."
McInerney is moving on after having established and led one of the most successful online grocery companies in the U.S. He founded FreshDirect along with Jason Ackerman and Joe Fedele in 1999, and managed to guide the company through the dot-com bubble on its way to becoming a well-known New York City grocery brand. McInerney became CEO in 2018 after Ackerman, a former investment banker, stepped down from the top role.
Since its founding, FreshDirect has branched out in all directions from New York City and now operates in several Northeastern states along with Washington, D.C. It offers same-day and express delivery in addition to its legacy next-day service and has incorporated cutting-edge automation to sharpen its fulfillment operations.
FreshDirect survived its early years by meeting New Yorkers' high standards for fresh, innovative products and by being one of the few companies to take online grocery seriously. But the company has loads of competition these days. It has also endured operational stumbles, including a labored opening for its South Bronx warehouse in 2018.
Ahold Delhaize didn't elaborate on what the "next phase of growth" might look like for FreshDirect, but judging by its track record with former standalone grocer Peapod, that may likely include expanding into new markets while also integrating the brand and technology with its brick-and-mortar properties. Ahold Delhaize owns Stop & Shop stores in the Northeast and Giant Food stores in the Mid-Atlantic that could very well cross-pollinate with FreshDirect's brand and operations.
FreshDirect's focus on planned delivery has been challenged in recent years by the popularity of pickup and speedy same-day service. The company offers a limited number of pickup points. It began offering same-day delivery in 2016, but has only recently begun to scale the operation.
Ahold Delhaize and Centerbridge Partners completed their acquisition of FreshDirect in January after announcing the deal last November. Ahold Delhaize reports its first quarter results for fiscal 2021 on May 12.