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Whole Foods CEO to retire, successor named

Whole Foods announced that Co-Founder and CEO John Mackey will retire from the company Sept. 1, 2022. Chief Operating Officer Jason Buechel will succeed Mackey as the company's new CEO. 

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John Mackey

"Jason is a true servant leader and champion of Whole Foods’ culture and values, and he will lead the company into the future," said Mackey. "Jason was my personal choice to replace me as the CEO and I’m pleased Amazon leadership agreed that he is the right person for the role."

Buechel joined Whole Foods in 2013 as global vice president and chief information officer and was promoted in 2015 to executive vice president before being named chief operating officer in 2019. In addition to being responsible for the operations of all WFM stores and facilities, he also currently oversees technology, supply chain and distribution, and Team Member Services. 

"Jason is one of my most trusted partners and I’m incredibly confident that the company will continue to evolve and thrive under his leadership," said Mackey. "Jason has a number of very special qualities that will help him succeed as our next CEO.  Not only is he extraordinarily intelligent with unusually high integrity, he is also a servant leader who lives and embodies Whole Foods Core Values and Leadership Principles and is fundamentally just a good and loving person."

Mackey will continue to work closely with Buechel and the E-Team to gradually transition his responsibilities. The current CEO said he intends to devote much of his final year to the thing he love doing most at Whole Foods – visiting stores and connecting with as many of its employees as possible.

"Honestly, it’s very hard to retire from a company that I have helped to create, nourish and grow for 44 years when I leave," said Mackey. "As a co-founder of Whole Foods, I’ve often explained my relationship to the company with a parent-child metaphor. As a parent, I have always loved Whole Foods with all my heart.  I have done my best to instill strong values, a clear sense of higher purpose beyond profits, and a loving culture that allows the company and all our interdependent stakeholders to flourish.  All parents reach a time when they must let go and trust that the values imparted will live on within their children.  That time has nearly come for me and for Whole Foods.

"As I reflect on our company’s history and impact on the world, I am inspired, exceptionally proud, and a little overwhelmed," Mackey said in a letter to employees. "The success of Whole Foods Market has created tremendous value for all our stakeholders, including our customers, Team Members, suppliers, investors, and our communities.  Working together, we have helped tens of millions of people live healthier lives and it is not an exaggeration to say that Whole Foods has impacted very positively the way many people in America and around the world eat.  We have created a very special culture that led to our being named one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For for 20 consecutive years. I am very proud of the role we’ve played in advancing How food is grown, produced and sourced matters and fulfilling our higher purpose to nourish people and the planet is what makes Whole Foods so much more than just a grocery store.  I’m also proud of the thousands of small local food companies that Whole Foods helped launch in our stores, hundreds of which have grown to be large and successful companies in their own right.  While there are so many more of our achievements that I’m proud of, I want to especially recognize the amazing work that our three Foundations have done over the past 20 years—Whole Planet, Whole Kids, and Whole Cities have together positively impacted the lives of several millions of people."

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