Retailer-owned cooperative Wakefern Food Corp. has appointed Neil Falcone CFO and Karen Meleta chief communications officer. Falcone, previously VP of ShopRite Financial Services (SFS) and corporate finance, succeeds Doug Wille, who retired recently after 43 years with Wakefern. Meleta, who was the company’s VP consumer and corporate communications for 13 years, is its first-ever chief communications officer.
Falcone began his Wakefern career at Price Rite Marketplace in 2007 before being promoted to director of ShopRite Financial Services. He then became VP of SFS and corporate finance in 2015. Before joining Wakefern, Falcone held leadership roles with Waldbaum’s, A&P and Levitz Furniture. Falcone brings significant retail experience to his latest role, in which he is helping to guide the cooperative’s long-term financial growth and success. Falcone and his finance team are developing the tools and technology necessary to provide financial services and analysis for the co-op’s members and supermarket banners.
In her new role, Meleta will continue to have responsibility for all aspects of Wakefern’s communications, public relations and reputation management. She’s also in charge of stakeholder messaging across internal communications, public policy, sustainability, corporate philanthropy, media relations, crisis communications and government affairs. Meleta has led company sustainability efforts, with a special focus on creating initiatives to reduce food waste at retail and developing seafood sustainability and animal welfare guidelines. Another program under her purview is ShopRite Partners In Caring, ShopRite and Wakefern’s hunger relief program, for which she has devised innovative and impactful cause marketing campaigns. Meleta has been with Wakefern Food Corp. for more than two decades. Before joining Wakefern, she was a communications consultant to such Fortune 500 companies as Unilever, Parke-Davis, Lancome and the Home Shopping Network, and she also spent nearly 10 years at Avon Products Inc.
The largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States, Keasbey, New Jersey-based Wakefern Food Corp. comprises nearly 50 members that independently own and operate more than 363 supermarkets under the ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite Marketplace, Gourmet Garage and Dearborn Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. The company is No. 25 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 listing of North America’s top retailers of food and consumables.