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Louis Martin, who currently serves as president of Coca-Cola's global Walmart customer team, is slated to start at United Natural Foods Inc. on March 21.

UNFI taps Coca-Cola’s Louis Martin to lead strategy

Grocery distributor creates new post of chief strategy and transformation officer

Coca-Cola Co. executive Louis Martin is joining United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) as chief strategy and transformation officer, a newly created role.

UNFI said Tuesday that Martin, who is slated to start on March 21, will oversee of the grocery distributor’s long-term growth strategy and report directly to CEO Sandy Douglas. A 15-year veteran of Coca-Cola, Martin currently serves as president of the global Walmart customer team at the beverage giant.

“As we execute and evolve our ‘Fuel the Future’ strategy, we are committed to building on both existing and new business platforms to deliver long-term, sustainable growth. The creation of this new role reflects our confidence in the value UNFI is positioned to generate across our entire ecosystem, including customers, suppliers, partners, and investors,” Douglas said in a statement. “Louis is a seasoned leader, with both a strategic and an operations background. His addition to our team will help drive UNFI’s next chapter of growth.”

Louis Martin-UNFI.jpgUnder a new leadership structure, Martin (pictured left) will direct UNFI’s revenue management, mergers and acquisitions, continuous improvement and project management office, as well as partner to drive Fuel the Future efforts via new supply chain, technology and data standardization capabilities and automation acceleration, the company said.

Meanwhile, Matt Whitney will now serve as chief growth officer, with responsibility for key UNFI growth platforms such as professional services, e-commerce and emerging business units. In May, Whitney had been promoted to the role of chief strategy and innovation officer.

During his tenure at Coca-Cola, Martin held positions ranging from strategic initiatives, in which he led the post-acquisition integration of the Glaceau beverage business, to investor relations. Before leading the global Walmart customer team, he served as senior vice president of system evolution for Coca-Cola North America, where he guided the refranchising and transformation efforts of Coca-Cola’s North American bottling, distribution and supply chain businesses. He came to Coca-Cola after working at McKinsey & Co. from 2002 to 2007, where he led strategic and operational transformation initiatives across the globe.

“I am excited to join UNFI and play a role in accelerating the many growth opportunities ahead,” Martin commented. “I look forward to engaging with the talented UNFI team as we build new capabilities to enhance our customer experience.”

Martin represents the second Coca-Cola executive to join UNFI this month. On March 1, 23-year Coca-Cola veteran Matt Echols joined UNFI as chief corporate affairs officer, another newly created position.

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.


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