Retail grocery cooperative Wakefern Food Corp. has appointed Neil Falcone as chief financial officer and Karen Meleta as chief communications officer, a newly created position.
Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern said Friday that Falcone, formerly vice president of ShopRite Financial Services (SFS) and corporate finance, succeeds Douglas Wille, who retired as CFO after serving in that role since 2007.
Wakefern noted that Falcone (left) brings significant retail experience to the CFO role, in which he and his finance team are developing key tools and technology to provide financial services and analysis for the cooperative’s members and supermarket banners.
Falcone (began his career at Wakefern in 2007 at Price Rite Marketplace and later was promoted to director of ShopRite Financial Services and then, in 2015, to president of SFS and Corporate Finance. Before coming to Wakefern, he served as vice president of financial planning and analysis at Levitz Furniture and, prior to that, spent about 24 years at the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., most recently as vice president of finance in the now-defunct retailer’s A&P/Waldbaum’s division.
Meanwhile, Meleta (left, below) takes over the new post of chief communication officer after serving as Wakefern’s vice president of consumer and corporate communications for 13 years. As communications chief, she will continue to oversee all aspects of the company’s communications, public relations and reputation management as well as drive stakeholder messaging across internal communications, public policy, sustainability, corporate philanthropy, media relations, crisis communications and government affairs.
Wakefern said Meleta has led company sustainability efforts, especially in developing programs to cut retail food waste and creating seafood sustainability and animal welfare guidelines. She also oversees ShopRite Partners In Caring, ShopRite and Wakefern’s hunger-fighting initiative, and has helped raise the program’s profile via innovative and impactful cause marketing campaigns, the company noted.
Before her 20-year career at Wakefern, Meleta served as a communications consultant to Fortune 500 companies — including Unilever, Parke-Davis, Lancome and the Home Shopping Network — and spent almost a decade at Avon Products.
Wakefern announced the retirement of Wille (left), a 44-year company veteran, last fall during its 2020 shareholders meeting, in which he was presented the Chairman’s Award by Wakefern Chairman and CEO Joseph Colalillo. Wille joined Wakefern in September 1976 as an internal auditor and rose through the ranks in a range of positions — including manager of grocery operations, internal audit, financial planning and control divisions, director of corporate accounting and vice president of corporate finance — until being named CFO in 2007.
Overall, Wakefern’s nearly 50 members independently own and operate 363 supermarkets under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage, and Fairway Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.