Jana Adds 5th Nominee for Proposed Whole Foods Board

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Jana Adds 5th Nominee for Proposed Whole Foods Board

05/31/2017

Jana Partners, the activist investment firm with plans to shake up Whole Foods Market and get it back on a profitable track, has added a fifth nominee to its planned board of directors for the Austin, Texas-based natural grocer, Reuters has reported.

Celeste Clark, previously chief sustainability officer at Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co., has been nominated to join the slate, which also includes former executives from Southeastern grocer Harris Teeter and apparel retailer The Gap, as well as a financial analyst, the news outlet said. Currently, no standstill has been struck between Whole Foods and Jana, which means that the latter can continue to pressure the former to improve performance.

New York-based Jana teamed with several food retail experts in April to purchase a 9 percent stake, the second-largest share, in Whole Foods, ready to shake up operations following six consecutive quarters of underperformance. A little more than two weeks later, another investor, Neuberger Berman, came forward with a call for action, pushing Whole Foods to sell.

Since then, Whole Foods has unveiled an “accelerated path” for growth, supported by category management and pricing initiatives, enhanced marketing and Affinity programs, and “disciplined organic growth.” Additionally, the retailer named Keith Manbeck, veteran of retailer Kohl’s, its new CFO, and added five new board members while naming two current ones board chair and chair of the board’s nominating and governance committee.