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With sales falling, Whole Foods replaces nearly half its board members

Marielle Segarra May 11, 2017
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you wanted to buy organic quinoa or grass-fed beef, Whole Foods used to be the place to go. Now, other stores sell those products too — your regular supermarket, Trader Joe’s, even Wal-Mart.

“These new entrants are stealing the idea, and they’re doing it at a lower price,” said Peter Cohan, who teaches strategy at Babson College in Massachusetts.

With sales falling, Whole Foods is facing pressure from a few key investors to turn itself around.

The company named a new chairwoman yesterday, and it’s replacing five of its board members. The new members include former executives at Foot Locker, Best Buy and the restaurant chain Panera. 

The company is hoping that’ll fend off more aggressive actions by activist investors, Cohan said.

What can the new board do to change things? Board members generally do big-picture, strategic thinking, said Nicholas Pearce, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “So this could be repositioning the brand,” Pearce said. “It could be re-envisioning how Whole Foods thinks of itself.”

Whether that will satisfy investors is another story.

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