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Leadership, Organizational Changes at UNFI

Natural foods retailer revamps, re-envisions internal infrastructure
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
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Focusing on four growth platforms, UNFI has redesigned its organizational structure and leadership team.

United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) has redrawn its organizational chart, announcing several leadership changes and a new team structure that reflects its growth and goals. The company is making the moves to pursue its focal points of services, wholesale, retail and corporate and business transformation.

“We are on an aggressive path to drive shareholder value by helping to create sustainable, profitable growth with and for our customers and suppliers,” explained Sandy Douglas, UNFI’s CEO who joined the organization in July 2021. “With positive momentum and a $140 billion addressable market with significant opportunities for selling more to existing and new customers, we are well positioned to attain these objectives. Our high performing, diverse leadership team, new organizational structure and value-based approach will ensure we are devoting maximum managerial talent and focus toward achieving these growth plans.”

The new organizational structure includes the following senior leadership updates:

  • Christopher Testa, UNFI’s president since 2018, will focus on leading the services platform, a role in which he will oversee supplier services, professional services, e-commerce and private and owned brands portfolios. He will report to Douglas.
  • Steve Dietz, also reporting to Douglas, has been tapped to lead UNFI’s wholesale platform. He will continue to expand the company’s customer base and enhance support to existing and new customers. Also in the wholesale group, Mark Bushway will head up supply chain, transportation and safety, and Jack Clare will lead information technology.
  • CUB CEO Mike Stigers will continue to lead UNFI’s owned retail division comprised of CUB and Shoppers banners, reporting to Douglas.
  • Leaders in the corporate and business transformation platform include John Howard, who will lead finance, accounting, tax, shared services, risk, and investor relations, and Mahrukh Hussain, tasked with legal, real estate and cyber security. Also in this area, Matt Echols will spearhead communications, environmental, social and governance, government relations and industry relations and the UNFI Foundation, while Danielle Benedict will oversee human resources, training, labor relations, diversity, equity and inclusion. Louis Martin is now at the helm of strategy, transformation, data and digital experience, and internal audit will be led by Brendan Walsh.

UNFI has brought on other leaders to accelerate growth in high priority areas of the business and support its strategy, including the following:

  • Kristyn Farahmand, formerly SVP of investor relations and strategic finance at CBRE Group, Inc., will be in charge of UNFI’s investor relations and finance transformation teams.
  • Tehzin Chadwick, former global senior director of environmental health and safety compliance at Sysco, will be responsible for workplace safety and food safety initiatives across the U.S. and Canada.
  • Usman Waheed, previously chief information officer at Knoll, will oversee the company’s digital strategy focused on customers, suppliers and associates.
  • Angie Balian, most recently VP and general manager at Weston Foods, will partner with the brands and services team.
  • Autumn Price, formerly VP of government and industry relations at Land O’Lakes, Inc., will take the reins of the newly-created government and public affairs team.

These human capital changes are part of UNFI’s three-year “Fuel the Future” strategy that was introduced to investors in 2021. According to UNFI, the company expects to have increased capital allocation flexibility and to be within its longer-term target net leverage range ahead of schedule. Earlier this summer, UNFI shared its third quarter results, showing a 39.6% increase in net income and raising its full-year outlook for net sales, net income, adjusted EBITDA, EPS and adjusted EPS.  

Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 49 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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