- UNFI has appointed John Howard as its permanent chief financial officer, effective Feb. 9, according to a press release. Howard has served as the company's interim CFO since last August, when Mike Zechmeister left the position.
- Eric Dorne, who currently serves as the chief information officer and chief administrative officer, has been appointed the role chief operating officer. The role of COO is currently held by Sean Griffin, who has announced his retirement on July 31 but will remain as an advisor until November to help the transition process. Chris Testa, the company’s current president and chief marketing officer, will take on additional roles overseeing UNFI’s professional services, supplier services, customer care and the company’s Canadian division.
- Paul Green, current chief supply chain officer will take on a new role as president of UNFI's fresh division, leading the meat and produce merchandising teams. Green will keep his title of chief supply chain officer until a successor is named. Mike Stigers, the current CEO of Cub Foods and executive vice president of UNFI's fresh division, will help Green transition and then solely focus on Cub.
Aside from these changes, UNFI is also looking to fill the role of chief information officer and chief supply chain officer. Both roles will report to Dorne. The company is also creating the new position of senior vice president of brands to build out its private label operations and oversee corporate branding initiatives.
Spinner, whose contract was renewed through July 31, 2021, noted in the release that Howard has a "great vision for directional changes he is ready to implement as we continue to strengthen our finance organization." Testa, Spinner said, has a track record of driving sustainable growth. Spinner says he is confident that these organizational changes will enable the company’s long-term success.
UNFI has struggled to integrate Supervalu and update its distribution network since acquiring the company in 2018 for $2.9 billion. It has also reported lower-than-anticipated sales volume, particularly from independent retailers. At the ICR Conference in Orlando last month, Spinner said UNFI was overly optimistic in its guidance post-acquisition, and that its initial plan to operate Supervalu independently was flawed. But he reaffirmed his confidence in the deal.
“We’re at the front of consolidation that will definitely take place in the wholesale industry," he said during a question-and-answer session at the conference. "It was 100% the right thing to do.”
Once the transaction is complete, UNFI will have 59 distribution centers within 100 miles of 85% of the population base, Spinner noted. He also said that over the next three years the company will focus on reorganizing its distribution centers according to fast-moving products, slow-moving products and general merchandise.
UNFI has missed earnings expectations and more than 1,000 union workers at its distribution centers went on strike late last year. In 2019, it sold off 13 of its Shoppers stores and the year prior it sold most of its Shop n’ Save stores to Schnucks, sold its Hornbacher’s chain to Coborn’s and divided up Farm Fresh among many buyers. The company says it will sell off its remaining Shoppers stores to multiple buyers while it anticipates Cub Foods stores will go to a single buyer. It plans to complete these sales in 2020.