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UNFI CEO Plans Retirement

UNFI CEO Plans Retirement
Steven Spinner has led UNFI for the past 12 years.

United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) has started a search for the company's next CEO as Steven Spinner, CEO for the past 12 years, prepares for retirement. Spinner plans to retire on July 31 after the conclusion of the term of his employment agreement, or earlier upon the appointment of a successor.

Spinner will continue to serve as executive chairman on the board after he retires as CEO. 

"Over the last 12 years, Steve has made many valuable contributions to UNFI, including growing our customer base, adapting our business to the demands of the digital marketplace, executing on value-enhancing acquisitions and, most recently, fulfilling UNFI’s role as a critical link in the North American food supply chain during an unprecedented global pandemic," said Peter Roy, UNFI’s lead independent director. "Throughout his tenure, Steve has methodically and consistently led UNFI to new heights, increasing annual sales from $3 billion to over $26 billion today. At the same time, Steve has fostered a strong set of core values across the company, building and inspiring a talented team around him and living UNFI’s commitment to serve our customers and the communities in which we operate."

fiscal year 2020

Spinner's announcement came on the same day UNFI reported its financial performance for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Aug. 1. Net sales increased 18.9% in fiscal year 2020 to $26.5 billion, driven largely by the company's retail segment, which saw  41% growth. Sales to chains and independent retailers each grew 21% as well.

UNFI reported a net loss of $474 million for the year, including $425 million pre-tax goodwill and asset impairment charges recorded in the first quarter of fiscal 2020. 

The company's fourth quarter continued to be powered by increased pandemic sales, although the growth was slower than it saw in the third quarter. Net sales edged up 0.4% to $6.75 billion and retail identical-store sales increased 21.0% compared with the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019.

"Fiscal 2020 was a monumental year for UNFI as the demonstrated flexibility and strength of our supply chain network led to full-year results that exceeded our expectations," said Spinner. "At the same time, we’re focused on keeping our associates safe and maintaining the food supply chain for communities across North America through the unprecedented events of 2020, including the pandemic, civil unrest and natural disasters. We’re continuing to execute with passion and purpose on our strategy and expect further growth in fiscal 2021."

Providence, Rhode Island-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. 61 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's list of the top food retailers in North America.

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