Tree of Life Unveils Strategic Realignment

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Leading natural and specialty foods marketer and distributor Tree of Life Inc. has announced a strategic realignment designed to keep pace with increases in demand for its products and unprecedented consolidation among its retail customers. This realignment includes a reorganization of its management structure, a new service package designed to enable its customers to customize service offerings, and several operational changes in the areas of inventory management and customer and vendor initiatives.

"The result of the changes will be a Tree of Life that is leaner, more agile and better able to capitalize on the American consumer's burgeoning interest in a healthy lifestyle and its eagerness to explore new culinary experiences," said Rick Thorne, chairman and CEO.

The company has given several top managers new responsibilities. Wayne Richman has been appointed to the new position of senior VP and COO. The creation of the COO position completes a 14-month reorganization process, through which 16 independent divisions were replaced by seven market regions, headed by regional presidents who will report to Richman.

Tree of Life also announced a split of its marketing function into sales and merchandising. As a result, there are two additional executive appointments. George Schuetz will assume the position of senior VP of sales, responsible for customer relations, new business development, and the quality of the company's sales and service efforts. Frank Patrick will become senior VP of merchandising, responsible for improved coordination across the disciplines of procurement and category management.

The company will also immediately implement a 6 percent reduction in force company-wide. "The reduction of some 300 employees, difficult as it is, is necessary in the face of changes in our customer portfolio," said Thorne. The employees whose jobs are being eliminated will be offered appropriate severance packages as well as outplacement assistance, he added.

Tree of Life Inc. serves customers throughout the United States and Canada.
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