UNFI Makes More Changes to C-Suite

Grocery wholesaler appoints Andre Persaud as president and CEO of retail
Marian Zboraj
Digital Editor
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UNFI's Andre Persaud
Andre Persaud

United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) has appointed Andre Persaud president and CEO of retail, effective Nov. 6. Persaud will lead the company’s two retail banners, Cub (located primarily in Minnesota) and Shoppers Food Warehouse (located primarily in Washington, D.C., and Maryland). He will serve on UNFI’s senior leadership team and report to Sandy Douglas, UNFI’s CEO and president.

Douglas took on the president role last month after Christopher Testa stepped down from his position. During that time, Douglas said: "In a continued effort to improve execution and results, better align and simplify our organizational structure, and support our customer- and supplier-focused multiyear transformation plan, we have made the decision to combine our services and wholesale platforms. This alignment of our sales, services, brands, merchandising and digital teams will enable us to move with greater speed and alignment in support of the continued growth of our customer and supplier partners.”

Persaud comes to the grocery wholesaler after having spent nearly 30 years in retail and the past 20 years in senior leadership roles with large food and pharmacy operations. He is a results-driven and collaborative leader with broad and diverse experience leading both publicly and private equity- owned retail organizations.

“Andre is a proven leader with a demonstrated track record of success across a range of retail organizations,” noted Douglas. “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 was previously chief retail officer of Rite Aid, leading the $17 billion drug store business in the capacity of president/COO; executive consultant at Wakefern Foods; EVP retail at Shopko Stores; SVP of store operations at Burlington; and SVP at Loblaw Cos. Ltd, and he held progressive leadership roles at Shoppers Drug Mart and Walmart Canada. Most recently, he was senior advisor with Alvarez and Marsal Consumer and Retail Group, working in a C-level capacity with a respective client. Persaud is also a board advisor and strategic advisor to Pharmacity, one of Vietnam's largest pharmacy chains.

During his career, Persaud has been recognized by Mass Market Retailers as one of the top 50 retail executives in North America, by Business Insider magazine as a top retail power player, and by the National Diversity Council for leadership excellence. He earned both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

UNFI wrapped up a tough fiscal year in September, with its fourth-quarter and full fiscal year results for 2023 revealing pockets of loss during a period of transformation. Bottom-line data for the quarter ending July 29 showed a net income loss of $68 million, an $87 million drop in gross profits and a 56.3% fall in adjusted EBITDA compared with the fourth quarter in 2022. For the year, net income hit $24 million, compared with $248 million in profits the previous fiscal year.

The sometimes-dramatic shifts in financials were attributed to overall market volatility and UNFI’s investments in its ongoing transformation agenda centered on improving operating and supply chain efficiencies.

Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to more than 30,000 customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 20 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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