Wholesalers & Distributors

UNFI launches new organizational structure and value-based approach

UNFI’s leadership team will be dedicated to four growth platforms: Services, Wholesale, Retail, and Corporate and Business Transformation.
Photograph: Shutterstock

UNFI is making leadership changes that will be structured around four growth platforms of services: services, wholesale, retail, and corporate and business transformation., the Providence, R.I.,-based distributor said last week.

“We are on an aggressive path to drive shareholder value by helping to create sustainable, profitable growth with and for our customers and suppliers,” said UNFI CEO Sandy Douglas in a statement. “With positive momentum and a $140 billion addressable market with significant opportunities for selling more to existing and new customers, we are well positioned to attain these objectives. Our high-performing, diverse leadership team, new organizational structure and value-based approach will ensure we are devoting maximum managerial talent and focus toward achieving these growth plans.”

Chris Testa, president since 2018, will focus on leading the UNFI Services platform, responsible for the company’s supplier services, professional services, e-commerce, and private and owned brands portfolio.

“Chris will also be responsible for working with Sandy Douglas and the senior leadership team to introduce and lead enterprise-wide growth initiatives accelerating the Fuel the Future strategy,” UNFI said in a statement.

The company said it is looking to define the services platform as a “key component of the company’s goal to create compelling value for customers and suppliers by leveraging existing data and capabilities from its scaled and diversified operating business.”

Steve Dietz will lead UNFI's wholesale platform Wholesale’s customer growth work, continuing to expand the company’s customer base and enhance support to existing and new customers, the company said. He will report directly to Douglas, effective August 1.

Mark Bushway will lead supply chain, transportation and safety, and Jack Clare will lead information technology, with both continuing to focus on standardization of systems and customer execution.

Bushway and Clare will report directly to Douglas upon the retirement of Eric Dorne on Oct. 29.

As for UNFI’s retail division, Stillwater, Minn.-based Cub’s CEO Mike Stigers will continue to lead the company’s owned retail division. Stigers will report to Douglas.

UNFI said senior leadership of the corporate and transformation agenda will be focused on “building capabilities for the future, value creation for our shareholders, and long-term sustainable growth for our customers and suppliers.”

The following leaders will report to Douglas:

  • John Howard will lead finance, accounting, tax, shared services, risk, and investor relations.
  • Mahrukh Hussain will lead legal, real estate, and cyber security.
  • Matt Echols will lead communications, environmental, social and governance, government relations and industry relations, and the UNFI Foundation.
  • Danielle Benedict will lead human resources, training, labor relations, diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Louis Martin will lead strategy, transformation, data, and digital experience.
  • Brendan Walsh will lead internal audit.

Looking to accelerate growth in high-priority areas of the business and support its strategy, UNFI added the following leaders:

  • Kristyn Farahmand, formerly SVP investor relations and strategic finance at CBRE Group, Inc., lead UNFI’s investor relations and finance transformation teams.
  • Tehzin Chadwick, formerly global senior director of environmental health and safety compliance at SYSCO, will lead workplace safety and food safety initiatives across the U.S. and Canada.
  • Usman Waheed, formerly CIO at Knoll, will lead the UNFI’s digital strategy focused on customers, suppliers, and associates.
  • Angie Balian, formerly VP and general manager at Weston Foods, will partner with the brands and services team with a focus on initiatives to accelerate growth, drive efficiencies, and help customers succeed.
  • Autumn Price, formerly VP of government and industry relations at Land O’Lakes, Inc., will lead the government and public affairs team.

“Over the past six months we’ve sped decision-making and flattened our organization, brought in outside leaders to fill new roles, and elevated and focused existing UNFI leaders to create a diverse team that is aligned and motivated to deliver on our Fuel the Future strategy,” said Douglas.




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