Whole Foods Market Co-CEO Walter Robb leaves at short notice

  • Significant signs for push-out forces
  • After almost seven years on the job
  • Laud and praise for Robb
  • $10 million for agreeing to the noncompetition covenant
  • Dual CEO role eliminated
  • John Mackey becomes sole CEO

(management-change.com) — Austin, Texas, November 02, 2016 — Walter Robb, Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, leaves. It is a change at short notice. As announced by Whole Foods Market, Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Wednesday, November 02, 2016, Walter Robb leaves the post as Co-CEO at the supermarket chain in a surprising move after almost seven years on the job, effective December 31, 2016.

Whole Foods Market eliminates the dual CEO role. John Mackey will be sole CEO.

The move is part of a management shake-up.

On November 2, 2016, the Company also announced that Glenda Flanagan, the Company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, has informed the Company that she intends to retire from her role, effective as of September 24, 2017 (i.e., the end of the Company’s 2017 fiscal year).

No reason given

In the announcement, Whole Foods Market did not explicitly explain the reason for Robb’s imminent move, opening the door for speculation.

Whole Foods Market said: “The Board of Directors of Whole Foods Market … today announced changes to the leadership structure, including transitioning from co-Chief Executive Officers to a sole Chief Executive Officer, with co-Founder John Mackey to serve in that capacity.”

Precise information about the future plans of Robb was not immediately available.

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of Whole Foods Market, Inc. since March 2015.

Chaired by John Elstrott

Whole Foods Market, Inc. is chaired by John B. Elstrott.

Elstrott, Chairman of the Board, has served as a director of the Company since 1995.

On the job as Co-CEO since 2010

Walter E. Robb, III, has been Co-Chief Executive Officer of Whole Foods Market, Inc. since May 2010.

Walter Robb joined Whole Foods Market in 1991.

He operated the Mill Valley, CA store until he became president of the Northern Pacific Region in 1993, where he grew the region from two to 17 stores.

He became Executive Vice-President of Operations in 2000, Chief Operating Officer in 2001 and Co-President in 2004.

Now as Co-CEO, Robb oversees six regions and is on the Whole Planet Foundation Board of Directors.

An avid organic advocate, Robb is on the Advisory Board for the Organic Center for Education and Promotion.

He is also on the Board of Regents for the University of the Pacific.

Robb has served the company for 25 years.

He will officially transition his co-CEO responsibilities on December 31, 2016, and will continue to be a senior advisor to the Company.

Walter Robb will remain on the Company’s Board of Directors and continue to serve as Chairman for both Whole Kids Foundation and Whole Cities Foundation.

No bad blood

The fact that Robb is staying on as a director would suggest there’s no bad blood with the board.

Significant signs for push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Walter Robb’s move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by management-change.com suggests significant signs for push-out forces that may have contributed to the management change.

Read the full story in the management-change.com report 41.2016 ($).