Griffin Reappointed COO as UNFI Moves to Unite Supervalu

The move signals migration to 'one company' is accelerating
Photograph by WGB Staff

In a move officials said would accelerate the integration of Supervalu, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) has reappointed Sean Griffin as chief operating officer in addition to his duties as CEO of Supervalu.

Griffin, a veteran UNFI executive who was its COO from 2014 to 2018, was named CEO of Supervalu upon UNFI’s acquisition of the rival distributor last year. He began his dual role April 22. The move, the company said, would “advance both UNFI’s execution of its long-term strategic objectives and short-term synergy, revenue and EBITDA growth objectives.”

As COO, Griffin will oversee all UNFI’s sales, services, operations, merchandising and retail functions.

“We feel very good about the work accomplished over the last six months to integrate UNFI and Supervalu, to align our people and to implement the necessary process and systems changes. As such, we're now well-positioned to accelerate our migration to one company,” UNFI CEO Steven Spinner said in a statement. “Sean is the ideal candidate to assume his previous role as our chief operating officer, where he'll influence and guide sales and operations across our entire organization.”

During his nine-year tenure with UNFI, Griffin has served in several senior leadership roles. Prior to joining UNFI, Griffin was East region broadline president of Performance Food Group. He has also held various leadership roles of increasing responsibility in the foodservice distribution industry with U.S. Foodservice, Alliant Foodservice and Sysco Corp.

In a separate move, also effective April 22, UNFI has expanded its board of directors to nine members with the appointment of James Muehlbauer. An experienced financial and strategic executive, Muehlbauer most recently, from 2013 to 2017, was EVP, chief financial officer and chief administrative officer for The Valspar Corp., a manufacturer and distributor of paints, coatings and related products.

Valspar generated approximately $4.4 billion in revenues prior to its acquisition by Sherwin-Williams in 2017. Before joining Valspar, Muehlbauer spent more than a decade at Best Buy, including as CFO from 2007 to 2013. Muehlbauer has also served on the board of overseers for the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

“Jim’s extensive financial background with strong commercial and leadership skills will make him a valuable addition to our board of directors,” Spinner said. “His knowledge and experience in broad strategic transitions and large-scale integration efforts directly aligns with the qualifications and expertise identified through our board refreshment process.”


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