Will one CEO be better than two for Whole Foods?
Whole Foods is scrapping its co-CEO arrangement. Founder John Mackey will remain as the sole chief executive at the company. Walter Robb, who was positioned as the person with the business acumen to deliver on the outspoken Mackey’s vision for the company when the co-CEO position was created six years ago, will leave his co-CEO role on Dec. 31 while remaining a member of the Whole Foods board.
The thinking behind the move is that having one CEO will streamline decision-making at the company and enable it to move more quickly to address key needs.
Mr. Robb, a 25-year veteran at Whole Foods, has been credited with helping to grow the company from 12 to 464 stores during his time at the company.
“It is impossible to convey what Walter has done for Whole Foods Market since he joined us in 1991,” said Mr. Mackey in a statement. “His incredible passion for retail and sense of the customer makes him the most extraordinary retailer I’ve had the privilege to work with. During his 25 years of leadership, Walter has been an advocate for the Whole Foods Market culture and a champion for our Team Members.”
Mr. Mackey will take over as sole CEO of a company that has experienced falling same-store sales as competition has increased from a wide variety of grocery competitors selling organic foods and beverages. Whole Foods has responded by cutting costs, instituting a more competitive pricing structure, rolling out a loyalty program and debuting its new small store 365 concept.
- Whole Foods Market Announces Changes to Leadership; Eliminates Co-CEO Structure; Appoints John Mackey CEO – Whole Foods Market
- Whole Foods Market (WFM) Q4 2016 Results (Earnings Call Transcript) – Seeking Alpha
- Whole Foods’ Mackey Takes Sole Ownership of Fixing His Creation – Bloomberg
- Whole Foods founder retakes helm in turnaround – Reuters
- John Mackey Will Be Sole CEO of Whole Foods – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think Whole Foods is better off with one chief executive rather than the two it has been operating with over the past six years? Did the board choose the right person to lead the company?