At United Natural Foods, Steven H. Townsend has announced his retirement and has resigned as president and chief executive officer, effective immediately, in order to devote more time to his other investments and business interests, and Michael S. Funk, a United Natural Foods director, will assume the additional responsibilities of president and chief executive officer. Townsend will remain chair of the board of directors until the company's annual meeting, which is scheduled for December 8, 2005, and, to ensure a smooth transition, will continue as a consultant to the company.
"The board thanks Steve for the significant contributions he has made during his 23 years of service in various senior executive positions at United Natural Foods and its predecessor companies. Steve developed a strong, highly competent and motivated management team, and over the last three years, the company's sales grew to $2.1 billion, with shareholder value enhanced by substantial investment in people, facilities, equipment and technology. The company reached many significant milestones during his career at United Natural Foods and we wish him well in his future endeavors, including as a consultant to UNFI," commented Thomas B. Simone, vice chair of the board and lead independent director. Townsend was elected as UNFI's chief executive officer in January 2003 and president in April 2001. He has served as a member of the company's board of directors since December 2000 and was previously on the board from 1996 until 1998. He has served as the chair of the board since January 2004.
Townsend commented, "I've enjoyed a most fulfilling tenure at United Natural Foods, and I especially want to acknowledge our entire management team. I look forward to beginning the next phase of my life and career. I wish all the people at UNFI continued success in its future and look forward to continuing my long-term relationship with United Natural Foods as a consultant."
Funk has been affiliated with United Natural Foods and its predecessors since 1976 and has been a member of the board of directors since February 1996. He served as the company's chief executive officer from December 1999 until December 2002 and as its president from October 1996 until December 1999. He was the company's chair of the board of directors from January 2003 until December 2003 and served as the company's vice chair of the board of directors from February 1996 until December 2002. Funk founded Mountain People's Warehouse Inc. in 1976 and co-founded United Natural Foods in 1996.
"The board is extremely pleased that Michael, a pioneer of the natural products industry, has agreed to return to the leadership role of president and chief executive officer," added Simone. "As a co-founder of United Natural Foods in 1996, he was a leader of a great team that built the organization into the leading natural products wholesaler in the United States. During his tenure as CEO, he successfully led an operational turnaround with revenues increasing to over $1.2 billion. We believe Michael's proven track record, supported by the company's strong executive management team, will enable United Natural Foods to strengthen its leading position as America's premier certified organic distributor."
"I've dedicated my career to building an organization that has excelled in the distribution of natural and organic foods and wellness products," stated Funk. "I am excited about United Natural Foods' future. We have a highly experienced management team, a base of over 20,000 customers nationwide in every class of trade and a solid balance sheet, all of which positions us for long-term sustainable growth."