Wakefern Food Corp. named Mike Stigers as the cooperative’s next president, the Keasbey, New Jersey-based cooperative announced on Friday, one day after Stigers said he would leave his post as CEO of retail at United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI). The grocery industry veteran will take the helm of Wakefern on June 1, following the retirement of current President Joe Sheridan
Stigers said he intends to leave Providence, Rhode Island-based distributor UNFI this spring.
At Wakefern, Stigers will report to the cooperative's board of directors. “Mike brings with him five decades of industry leadership, proven success and respect among his peers and the supplier community,” Wakefern’s Chairman Joe Colalillo said in a statement. “Wakefern will benefit from that broad knowledge base and leadership experience.”
Sheridan, who announced his retirement last year, will remain with the company through the end of the calendar year to help with the transition.
“Wakefern’s unique culture and structure is at the heart of its success. I believe Mike Stigers is the right leader who will preserve the best of who we are and at the same time continue to move Wakefern forward. I look forward to working with him through the transition process,” Sheridan said in a statement.
Sheridan’s 47-year career with the cooperative includes the past 11 years as president.
“On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank Joe Sheridan for his decades-long dedication to Wakefern and for his role in the search and selection process—it has been invaluable,” Colalillo said in a statement.
A veteran in the grocery space, Stigers, who started as a part-time grocery clerk, brings with him five decades of industry experience in both the retail and wholesale sides of the business.
Prior to UNFI, Stigers spent eight years at SuperValu, beginning in 2011 as the president of Shaw’s/Star Market in New England. In 2013, he went on to lead SuperValu’s northern wholesale region and then in 2014, he was named president of Cub Foods. In 2016, he was promoted to the position of EVP of SuperValu Wholesale and Supply Chain Services. He occupied that role until it was acquired by UNFI in 2018.
Active in the various industry trade associations, Stigers served as past president of the Western Association of Food Chains. He is the immediate past chair of the National Grocers Association (NGA), having served as the chair of the venerable organization from 2020-2021.
“I am excited to join Wakefern at this important time in its history,” Stigers said in a statement. “The strength of the cooperative and its solid position as a regional grocery is well known in the industry. I am looking forward to joining the team and working alongside the cooperative membership to help shape its future.”
Wakefern Food Corp. began as a small, local cooperative with eight owners and has now grown into the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States, with members operating more than 300 stores under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market banners throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England.