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CEO shakeup at Whole Foods


There’s going to be change in the leadership structure at Whole Foods Market that will leave founder John Mackey as the sole CEO of the company.

Walter Robb, a 25-year Whole Foods veteran, is stepping down as co-CEO of the chain, effective Dec. 31. Robb, who has shared the CEO title with Mackey for six years, will remain on the board of directors and continue to serve as a senior advisor to the company and as chairman of the Whole Kids Foundation and Whole Cities Foundation.

Whole Foods will incur a charge of $13 million in the current quarter as a result of Robb's separation agreement. Robb will receive a $10 million lump payment from Whole Foods as part of a non-compete agreement, plus a 30% lifetime discount at its stores, Austin Business Journal reported .

“Under Walter’s leadership, Whole Foods Market has grown from 12 to 464 stores in three countries,” stated John Elstrott, chairman. “He has been instrumental in accelerating investment in our digital strategy and technology transformation to meet the ever-changing retail landscape.”

The change in the CEO structure comes after the grocer reported its fifth consecutive quarter of declining same-store sales. Whole Foods faces increasing competition from a whole host of retailers, including traditional supermarkets like Kroger Co., specialty grocers, discounters, and online players.

In other changes, executive VP and CFO Glenda Flanagan will retire after 29 years with Whole Foods. Flanagan, whose retirement is effective at the end of the company’s fiscal 2017 year, is the longest ever serving female CFO in the Fortune 500. She will continue to serve the company in a senior advisor capacity.

The company also announced today that Mary Ellen Coe, VP of sales and product operations for Google, has joined the Whole Foods Market board.
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