- Sprouts Farmers Market has added Hari Avula, chief financial and strategic officer of organic energy bar maker Clif Bar, to the specialty grocer’s board of directors, according to a Tuesday press release.
- Avula has executive experience in both the retail and CPG sectors, including more than two decades in various positions at PepsiCo.
- Sprouts is adding Avula to its board as the retailer looks to improve its operations after encountering difficulty attracting sales in the early months of 2022.
Avula’s appointment continues an effort by Sprouts to bring on new management expertise as the health-focused grocery chain seeks to adjust course amid inflation and other headwinds.
The Clif Bar executive, who has led financial management and enterprise strategy at the company since last May, will serve on Sprouts’ audit and risk committees. Before joining Clif Bar, which provides a variety of products to Sprouts, Avula held top-level financial posts at Walgreens Boots Alliance, starting in 2017. Earlier in his career, he worked in multiple strategic and financial roles at PepsiCo for more than 22 years, including CFO of Frito-Lay North America.
Avula is joining Sprouts’ board of directors following the company’s hiring in March of former Target food merchandise planner Nicholas Konat as president and chief operating officer. That move coincided with the company’s disclosure that Gil Phipps, who joined Sprouts in 2020 as senior vice president and chief marketing officer, was no longer serving in that position.
Last August, Sprouts announced that Lawrence “Chip” Molloy, who had served as a Sprouts director, would leave the board to become the company’s CFO.
Sprouts reported earlier this month that its comparable store sales rose just 1.6% during the first quarter of 2022 and reduced its outlook for the year. Speaking during an earnings call, Molloy said inflation and other economic factors had had a bigger effect on its operations than it had expected, exacerbating the trouble it has faced as it looks to build ties with shoppers.
Sprouts has recently attracted criticism from analysts concerned that its weak sales in Q1 could portend a deeper downward spiral for the company, which has not kept up with competitors in the food-retailing sector during the pandemic. Wall Street is also worried that Sprouts’ plans to open new stores at a brisk clip could harm its performance.