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SpartanNash Gears Up for Contested Board Vote

Company highlights proposed board of director qualifications amid speculation about investors’ reported interest in selling company
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
SN board
In a new shareholder letter, SpartanNash listed the credentials of its board members and shared why they are more qualified than candidates proposed by investors who may be seeking a company sale.

SpartanNash followed up on a recent communication to shareholders with a new letter detailing the qualifications of its recommended board members. The letter reiterates a request to vote for the slate of candidates at the June 9 annual meeting and provides more background on each individual.

The latest communication comes after investors Macellum Advisors and Ancora Holdings Group pushed three of their own suggested candidates to the board. Those groups, which own about 4.5% of SpartanNash’s stock, are said to be seeking a sale or partial sale of the company.

Earlier this month, reports also swirled that outside companies, including United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) and Oak Street Real Estate Capital, have been mulling bids to buy SpartanNash. Those reports, based on tips from an anonymous source, have not been verified.

SpartanNash is being both proactive and defensive in its efforts to put forth its board of director nominees and took aim at those who questioned the moves. “Your board has taken decisive actions to implement a comprehensive transformation of the company, refresh your board’s composition and make significant executive leadership upgrades to drive improved financial performance – all of which are taking hold, delivering measurable results and driving shareholder value,” the letter stated, going on to note: “Regardless of its tactics, the Investor Group’s attacks are based on information that is over four years old and pre-dates the company’s successful business and leadership transformation.”

SpartanNash’s recommended board members include Douglas A. Hacker, M. Shân Atkins, Matthew Mannelly, Julien Mininberg, Jaymin Patel, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Hawthorne L. Proctor, Pamela Puryear, Ph.D., Tony Sarsam, and William R. Voss. The food solutions company pointed out that eight of the nine qualified directors are independent, including an independent board chair, and members reflect diversity across race and gender.

SpartanNash’s core businesses include distributing grocery products to independent and chain retailers, its corporate-owned retail stores, and U.S. military commissaries and exchanges, as well as fresh produce distribution and fresh food processing. No. 39 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company serves customer locations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Europe, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Djibouti. SpartanNash also operates 146 supermarkets and employs 19,000 associates. 

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