United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) announced the appointment of J. Alexander (Sandy) Miller Douglas as CEO and member of its Board of Directors effective August 9, 2021. Douglas was selected after an extensive search to replace Steven Spinner. The latter previously announced his retirement as CEO and, at the same time, will step down from the Board of Directors, effective August 9.
UNFI said in a press released that Douglas is a proven, customer-focused, strategic leader who brings a broad background and expertise in distribution, sales, marketing, and e-commerce as the Company’s new CEO.
Spinner will continue to provide Management and Board advisory services to UNFI through a transition period for up to one year after his retirement.
“We are pleased to welcome Sandy as our new CEO and member of the UNFI Board,” said Denise Clark, Chair of the Board’s Nominating and Governance Committee and CEO Succession Planning Committee. “He has a demonstrated track record leading large-scale transformation and growth through strategic, customer-focused action. His extensive experience, which is directly aligned with UNFI’s focus on growing the core business while investing in innovation, make Sandy well-suited to drive the Company through its next chapter of growth successfully.”
Douglas most recently served as Chief Executive Officer of Staples, Inc., leading the North American business-to-business distribution platform’s strategic transformation and guiding the Company throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Before Staples, he served as President of Coca-Cola North America, overseeing the $10 billion revenue business, encompassing all aspects of its consumer and business-to-business operations.
During Douglas’ 30-year tenure at The Coca-Cola Company, he also served as Global Chief Customer Officer and held various leadership positions across sales and marketing.
“I am honored to join UNFI. The Company’s vision to transform the future of food has never been more important, and the opportunities in front of us are tremendous. Under Steve, UNFI has built a strong foundation for growth, and I look forward to working with UNFI’s exceptional leadership team, the 30,000 hard-working associates across this entire organization and our Board to continue delivering innovative growth platforms that help make our customers stronger and our operations more successful,” said Douglas.
To mark the retirement of Steven Spinner, Michael Funk, UNFI Board member and co-founder, recognized the outgoing CEO for his transformational impact on UNFI. “Since taking the helm in 2008, under his leadership, the Company has become the largest grocery wholesaler in the country by acquiring a variety of businesses and innovating new products and services. Steve has navigated this tremendous growth and change the right way, bringing teams together and preserving the culture of UNFI and its core mission and values. As co-Founder of the Company, I personally want to extend my gratitude for all that Steve has accomplished during his 13 years at UNFI.”
“It has been my great honor to lead UNFI,” said Spinner. “I am so proud of what this team, including Chris Testa, who will continue in his President role, continues to achieve as the largest grocery distributor in North America. With unmatched scale, product and service offerings, and a commitment to innovation and sustainability, I truly believe UNFI is positioned to deliver exceptional value for its customers and stakeholders going forward.”
Also, effective as of August 9, 2021, the UNFI Board has elected Jack Stahl to serve as Independent Chair of the Board. Stahl has served in senior leadership positions throughout his career, most recently as President and CEO of Revlon Inc., and currently serves as Lead Director of Catalent, Inc.