Plated CEO drops out 3 months after co-founder
- Plated CEO Josh Hix will leave the meal delivery company he co-founded with Nick Taranto, who left in October, Bloomberg reported. Parent company Albertsons did not offer a reason for the departure or information on Hix's plans for the future. The chain’s VP of strategic business initiatives, Pat Brown, will lead the Boise-based Plated team alongside its senior leadership.
- A few months after the Amazon-Whole Foods deal In 2017, Albertsons bought Plated for about $200 million, aiming to give the chain an outlet for younger consumers attracted to delivery.
- Plated meal kits currently appear in 300-plus stores with more on the horizon, per Winsight Grocery Business.
Albertsons took a chance on Plated shortly after meal-kit pioneer Blue Apron went public at $10 a share. Blue Apron’s stock has since plummeted to under $1, a haunting sign for the concept in a volatile marketplace with ever-evolving consumer demands and expectations.
Hix’s departure from his own company could signal a shift in retailers’ approach to meal kits and the many startups they have partnered with in the past couple of years. Kroger bought Home Chef and Costco put Blue Apron kits on its shelves (and has since paused the partnership) while Ahold Delhaize launched HelloFresh kits at its Stop & Shop and Giant brands. As retailers grow more comfortable with the concept, gain consumer insights and adjust layouts in refrigeration to accommodate the kits, meal kit leaders could lose some decision-making clout.
On a 2014 episode of Shark Tank, Hix and Taranto accepted an offer from Mark Cuban, who later rescinded his offer when the co-owners requested a higher valuation for the concept, according to a CNBC promotional video. The duo later partnered with Kevin O’Leary, another Shark Tank Investor, who was impressed with the company’s growth.
With the grocery industry reeling after Amazon bought Whole Foods in June 2017, Albertsons was counting on Plated to bring its infrastructure and customer database into the fold — an otherwise expensive marketing proposition. The grocer also planned to assist with delivery using its fleet of trucks.
Subscriptions have been a boon for meal kit companies, and Plated enjoyed top ratings for its flexible options. Customers can choose meals by skill level, as well as the number of serving sizes from one to eight people. They can also control the timing and frequency of deliveries. In addition, Plated touts antibiotic-free meats, seasonal produce and chef-produced recipes — and published a cookbook to prove it.
At Albertsons, Plated kits serve two people and cost around $8.50 per serving. Subscription prices run from $9.95 to $11.95 per serving, depending on the plan. With greater buying power, retailers could help drive down costs and catch new customers — both in-store and through increasingly robust delivery models of their own.