UNFI launches search for private brand strategy leader

Amid a series of executive leadership changes, United Natural Foods Inc., or UNFI, announced it is creating a new position to build up its private brand strategy and to oversee UNFI’s corporate branding. 

Providence, R.I.-based UNFI currently is seeking someone to fill the newly created position of senior vice president of brands. UNFI purchased Supervalu in 2018 for nearly $3 billion and has four private brands currently on its roster: Wild Harvest, Culinary Circle, Essential Everyday and Equaline.

The company said the senior vice president, brands, role is to further differentiate the company's exclusive private brand offerings.

UNFI delivers products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. Combined with Supervalu, UNFI is the largest publicly traded grocery distributor in the United States.

Other new positions they're trying to fill include a new chief information officer and chief supply chain officer.

Moves the company did make and announce include an extension to Steven Spinner's employment agreement as chairman and CEO through July 31, 2021. 

Eric Dorne has been appointed to take over the role of COO as Sean Griffin prepares to retire from the position. Dorne currently is the company's chief information officer and chief administrative officer, and he also oversees the company's integration office and Canadian business. Dorne will assume the role of COO on March 8.  

Chris Testa, president and chief marketing officer, will take on additional responsibilities leading UNFI's professional services, supplier services, customer care and the company's Canadian division.

John Howard, who has been interim chief financial officer since 2019, has been appointed to the position officially.

"Our vision for industry transformation is taking hold as we continue to integrate and provide our customers with scale, services and differentiated distribution alternatives," said Spinner. "Development of our talent and succession planning are part of my and the UNFI board's responsibilities, and we are confident the leadership changes being announced will serve as an enabler towards long-term success."

Other leadership changes include:

  • Paul Green, currently UNFI's chief supply chain officer, will take on a new role as president, fresh, leading the meat and produce merchandising teams.
  • Mike Stigers, currently Cub Foods CEO and executive vice president of fresh, will transition UNFI's fresh teams to green. He will also continue focusing on the sale of Cub Foods. 

Abby Kleckler is an editor and writer with sister publication Progressive Grocer.