Next week, food, drug and mass retail veteran Andre Persaud is slated to join United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) as president and CEO of retail, taking over the role vacated this past spring by Mike Stigers.
Plans call for Persaud to start as retail chief on Monday, Providence, Rhode Island-based UNFI said late Tuesday. In the role, he will lead the grocery distributor’s Cub Foods and Shoppers Food Warehouse supermarket businesses, serve on UNFI’s senior leadership team and report directly to Sandy Douglas, UNFI president and CEO.
The retail unit is led by Cub Foods, which has a retail network of 54 supermarkets and pharmacies plus 32 franchised full-line and separate liquor stores, primarily in the Twin Cities market but also including Illinois. Shoppers operates 24 stores in the Maryland, northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., markets. For fiscal 2023, UNFI’s retail arm saw net sales climb 4.6% to $30.27 billion.
“Andre is a proven leader with a demonstrated track record of success across a range of retail organizations,” Douglas said in a statement. “We are excited for Andre to join our team and look forward to the positive contributions he will bring to the company in this leadership position.”
Persaud brings to UNFI nearly 30 years of retail chain experience, most recently as chief retail officer of Rite Aid, a role he held from June 2021 to March 2023. He joined the drug chain in February 2020 as executive vice president of retail, coming over from grocery retail cooperative and ShopRite parent Wakefern Food Corp., where he served as executive consultant.
Before that, Persaud was executive vice president of retail at Shopko and senior vice president of store operations for Burlington Stores. His career also includes roles as senior vice president of central operations and merchandising for Loblaw Cos. and various senior operational posts at Shoppers Drug Mart (now part of Loblaw). He began his career as a pharmacist and served in leadership positions of rising importance, eventually leading drug store operations for Walmart Canada.
After Rite Aid, Persaud served as an adviser at PeakSpan Capital, principal at The AVNP Group and senior adviser at Alvarez and Marsal Consumer and Retail Group. He also currently serves as a board and strategic adviser to Pharmacity, one of Vietnam's largest pharmacy chains, and is a past board member and vice chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
UNFI had disclosed Stigers’ departure in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing in March, with the grocery veteran staying on as an adviser at the company until May 31. He started as Wakefern’s president on June 1.
Stigers had served as CEO of Cub Foods since 2019 and later became UNFI Retail CEO. Previously, he had served as executive vice president of UNFI Fresh from 2019 to 2020. Stigers came to UNFI in the fall of 2018 as part of the company’s $2.9 billion acquisition of fellow grocery distributor Supervalu Inc.
In early October, UNFI announced the exit of Christopher Testa as president, with that title going to Douglas. Testa, whose departure also was disclosed in an 8-K filing, stepped down from the president’s post on Oct. 13.