United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) has unveiled a new leadership and organizational structure comprised of four growth platforms — services, wholesale, retail and corporate/business transformation — linked to the grocery distributor’s strategic priorities.
Providence, R.I.-based UNFI said yesterday that President Chris Testa and four other C-suite executives will take on leading roles in the revamped organization. Appointed to head the services platform, Testa is charged with achieving significant sales and profit growth through the company’s emerging brands and services divisions. He will be responsible for supplier services, professional services, e-commerce and the private- and owned-brands portfolio.
Testa (pictured left) will report to UNFI CEO Sandy Douglas and work with him and other senior leaders to introduce and lead enterprisewide growth initiatives accelerating UNFI’s Fuel the Future strategy, a three-year project introduced to investors in June 2021.
Dietz will manage the customer growth work, continuing to expand UNFI’s customer base and enhance support to existing and new customers. He will report to Douglas, effective Aug. 1. Bushway will head supply chain, transportation and safety projects, and Jack Clare will lead information technology. Both will continue to focus on standardization of systems and customer execution, UNFI noted.
Plans call for Dietz and Bushway to report to Douglas upon the retirement of Eric Dorne, chief operating officer, on Oct. 29. UNFI had announced in mid-May that Dorne aimed to retire in the fall.
Mike Stigers, CEO of the Cub Foods retail business unit, will continue to manage UNFI’s owned retail division, encompassing 53 Cub Foods stores and 21 Shoppers stores. He reports to Douglas.
“We are on an aggressive path to drive shareholder value by helping to create sustainable, profitable growth with and for our customers and suppliers,” Douglas, who became UNFI’s CEO last August, said in a statement. “With positive momentum and a $140 billion addressable market with significant opportunities for selling more to existing and new customers, we are well positioned to attain these objectives. Our high performing, diverse leadership team, new organizational structure and value-based approach will ensure we are devoting maximum managerial talent and focus toward achieving these growth plans.”
UNFI said the corporate and transformation platform officers will focus on building capabilities for the future, shareholder value and sustainable growth for customers and suppliers. Each leader will continue to report to Sandy Douglas. They include John Howard (finance, accounting, tax, shared services, risk and investor relations); Mahrukh Hussain (legal, real estate and cyber security); Matt Echols (communications, environmental, social and governance, government and industry relations, and the UNFI Foundation); Danielle Benedict (human resources, training, labor relations, diversity, equity and inclusion); Louis Martin (strategy, transformation, data and digital experience); and Brendan Walsh (internal audit).
In addition, UNFI has recruited the following executives to boost growth in high-priority areas of the business and support its strategy:
• Kristyn Farahmand, formerly senior vice president of investor relations and strategic finance at CBRE Group Inc., will lead UNFI’s investor relations and finance transformation teams and report to Howard.
• Tehzin Chadwick, formerly global senior director of environmental health and safety compliance at SYSCO, will lead workplace safety and food safety initiatives across the U.S. and Canada and report to Bushway.
• Usman Waheed, formerly chief information officer at Knoll, will lead the company’s digital strategy focused on customers, suppliers and associates and report to Martin.
• Angie Balian, formerly VP and general manager at Weston Foods, will partner with the brands and services team to focus on initiatives to accelerate growth, drive efficiencies and help customers succeed and report to Testa.
• Autumn Price, formerly VP of government and industry relations at Land O’Lakes Inc., will lead the newly created government and public affairs team and will partner with UNFI’s leadership team, customers and industry groups to work with national, state and local governments, and civil society to advocate for competitive legal and regulatory environments that allow independent and family-owned retailers to invest, grow and thrive. Price will report to Echols.
“Over the past six months, we’ve sped decision making and flattened our organization, brought in outside leaders to fill new roles, and elevated and focused existing UNFI leaders to create a diverse team that is aligned and motivated to deliver on our Fuel the Future strategy,” Douglas added. “As a key part of the leadership plan, Chris will now be able to give his full attention to our most-critical growth areas, our services and brands portfolios. I’m confident our customers and suppliers will benefit with greater value and offerings to their businesses.”
North America’s largest publicly traded grocery distributor, UNFI operates nearly 50 distribution centers and supplies more than 30,000 retailers in the United States and Canada, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice providers.