FreshDirect co-founder and CEO David McInerney is leaving the pure-play online grocer, four months after the company’s acquisition by global food retailer Ahold Delhaize.
McInerney is stepping down from FreshDirect effective today and will be succeeded on an interim basis by Farhan Siddiqi, chief digital officer of Ahold Delhaize, the Zaandam, Netherlands-based company said. Siddiqi assumes overall leadership responsibility for FreshDirect, and McInerney will continue in an advisory role through the end of October. Plans call for a search to be initiated for a permanent CEO.
Ahold Delhaize and private equity firm Centerbridge Partners unveiled their acquisition of New York-based FreshDirect in mid-November and closed the transaction in early January. Financial terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed. Ahold Delhaize holds majority ownership in the online grocer, while Centerbridge has a 20% stake.
In the wake of the acquisition, McInerney continued to lead FreshDirect, which reported to a seven-person board. FreshDirect also retained its brand name and independent operation from its 400,000-square-foot automated fulfillment center and campus in the Bronx.
“FreshDirect has been an amazing, life-changing, 20-year adventure for me,” McInerney (left) said in a statement. “I have been so fortunate to have worked alongside an incredible team of talented, dedicated people who all share the same passion for our mission: to make great fresh food easy to get. Our amazing farmers, ranchers and fishermen have inspired me every day as partners, teachers and true friends. With the commitment and support of Frans [Muller, Ahold Delhaize CEO], Farhan and the entire Ahold Delhaize team, FreshDirect is in excellent hands and well-positioned for continued success.”
A pioneer in online grocery retailing, FreshDirect has provided digital shopping and delivery services — primarily in the metropolitan New York area — for more than 20 years. The company was founded in 1999 by Joe Fedele, Jason Ackerman and McInerney, who became its CEO in September 2018 with Ackerman’s resignation as chairman and chief executive. Fedele had served as CEO from FreshDirect’s launch in 2002 until 2004.
FreshDirect emphasizes its focus on fresh food, which accounts for more than 60% of its sales, as well as its relationships with local farmers and meal solutions. Overall, the e-grocer delivers directly to customers in selected markets in seven states, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, plus the District of Columbia.
“On behalf of Ahold Delhaize, I want to thank David for his dedication and leadership over the past two decades. As co-founder, David has been instrumental in establishing FreshDirect’s philosophy in bringing the best fresh and high-quality products to people’s doorsteps in the tri-state area,” commented Siddiqi (left), who joined Ahold Delhaize in January 2019 after holding the chief digital officer’s role at McDonald’s Corp. “We will ensure a smooth transition and honor FreshDirect’s unique customer-focused and food-centric culture and deep connection with its suppliers. FreshDirect’s customers will continue to enjoy the high-quality fresh food, great-tasting products and stellar service for which FreshDirect is known.”
FreshDirect is grouped under the Ahold Delhaize USA umbrella, which includes nearly 2,000 supermarkets on the East Coast under the banners Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s, Food Lion and Hannaford. It also includes Peapod Digital Labs, which emerged from former online grocery trailblazer Peapod, shut down by Ahold Delhaize early last year as the company integrated e-commerce services with its grocery retail brands.