Neil Stern, the leader of the food retail practice of the strategic consulting firm McMillan Doolittle and for decades a well-known industry voice, is taking a new role as CEO of the specialty food retailer Good Food Holdings, owners of five well-known West Coast premium and natural/organic supermarket brands.
Stern’s appointment is effective Oct. 1. He will succeed Matt Turnbull who has been with Los Angeles-based Good Food Holdings since 2012, and has served as its CEO since 2018. Turnbull will stay on until December to help with the transition.
Good Food Holdings is owned by the Korean retail conglomerate Emart, which over recent years has quietly acquired five locally well-regarded brands making up the company: California-based Bristol Farms and Seattle’s Metropolitan Market in the premium space, and Lazy Acres (Southern California), New Leaf (Northern California) and New Seasons (Portland, Ore.) in the natural/organic fields. It acquired New Leaf and New Seasons most recently.
Stern told WGB in an email he would explore opportunities to grow organically and through additional acquisitions; develop centralized capabilities to allow the banners—which are each run separately—to have the ability to deploy in their markets; “and to obtain the necessary resources to enable that growth.”
“We have amazing talent at the banner level,” he added, “so [I will] let them continue to thrive."
Stern described the brands as growing and “sustainable against future threats.”
“We have more than held our own against Whole Foods/Amazon [during] the pandemic,” he said.
Stern has served as a senior partner with Chicago-based McMillan Doolittle since 1986. He is relocating to Los Angeles for the new role.
“I’m very grateful for the time I’ve had over the years in helping build Good Food Holdings,” said Turnbull. “It has been a personally rewarding experience to work and grow with our different brands as they shine a spotlight on their differentiators.”