When a company has two CEOs, it's a pretty good sign it's bloated. Whole Foods announced on Wednesday that it is job-eliminating one of its two Chief Executive Officers, Walter Robb, a decision made in the wake of its first annual decline in comparable sales since 2009.
Robb is expected to remain on the Whole Foods board of directors and serve as a senior adviser, but by leaving his position as co-CEO, it will end the six-year period in which Whole Foods was one of the few American companies with a dual leadership structure. Robb will also reportedly receive a $10 million severance package and a lifetime discount of 30 percent on purchases made at Whole Foods.
The sole remaining CEO, Jack Mackey, attributed the grocery chain's decline to fierce industry competition. "Competition is everywhere; everybody's feeling it," he said, pointing to culprits from Blue Apron to Amazon Fresh.
This is part of a larger agenda by Whole Foods management to reduce costs. Whole Foods has cut prices, started a loyalty program, and combining store teams so that they can layoff employees. They're also planning to expand development of their 365 franchise, a spinoff chain that will offer less expensive versions of the inventory available at their larger stores.
Overall, Whole Foods plans on cutting $300 million in annual costs, with John Mackey reporting to investors on Wednesday that "we are pleased to report that as of year-end, we are more than 50% of the way toward our goal."
During the third quarter, Whole Foods reported an $88 million profit and stocks valued at 28 cents per share, compared with $56 million in profit and stocks at 16 cents per share at the same time last year.