Walmart executive J. Scott Neal is joining Sprouts Farmers Market as chief fresh merchandising officer, a newly created position.
Plans call for Neal to start at the Phoenix-based specialty grocer on June 15, Sprouts said Monday. For the past eight years, he has served as senior vice president and general merchandise manager for the fresh food division of Walmart U.S., where he oversaw quality control and merchandising of produce, meat and seafood.
In his new role, Neal (left) will oversee all of Sprouts’ fresh product offerings and report directly to CEO Jack Sinclair.
“I am excited to join Sprouts at this pivotal time in its growth trajectory,” Neal said in a statement. “It is more important than ever that our customers have access to fresh, healthy food to feed their families, and I look forward to joining Jack and the Sprouts leadership team to advance the company’s long-term vision of building a brand that is good for you, good for your family and good for the planet.”
Neal has spend more than 24 years at Walmart across a range of roles, with a focus on fresh food merchandising. He was promoted to his current post at the retail giant, senior VP and GMM of fresh food for Walmart U.S., in February 2013 after serving three years as VP of meat and seafood. Before that, he was VP and divisional merchandising manager of the meat division at Walmart U.S. from 2009 to 2011; VP and DMM of the commercial bread and bakery divisions from 2007 to 2009; and VP of international merchandising from 2000 to 2007. Neal also has served as a board member at national food bank organization Feeding America since 2016.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Scott to the Sprouts team,” Sinclair stated. “Scott joins us at the perfect time to leverage his deep experience in fresh merchandising and sourcing as we begin to implement our long-term growth strategy by creating an advantaged fresh supply chain to bring better-for-you options and innovative products to support our customers’ healthy lifestyles.”
Sprouts specializes in natural, organic and fresh groceries, offering an open market-style shopping experience. The retailer opened four new stores for its first quarter ended March 29 and now has 344 stores in 23 states, with plans to grow by 20 overall this year.