John Mackey, CEO of Amazon-owned merchant Whole Foods, will resign next year and step down from his role, the organization declared Thursday.
Whole Foods’ present COO, Jason Buechel, will become the new CEO after Mackey’s retirement, the organization said.
In a memo to employees, Mackey said he’s “ready to pursue some of my other life passions” after 43 years at Whole Foods and said Buechel is good to go for the role of CEO.
“I’ve decided that it’s time to begin to transition my role as CEO to the next generation of leadership,” Mackey said in the memo. “I have thought long and hard about this, and while it is still surreal to write, I have decided to retire on September 1, 2022.”
Mackey’s departure comes as Amazon has recently seen a stream of executives leave the organization. Amazon’s founder and executive chairman, Jeff Bezos, stepped down as CEO in July, with previous cloud manager Andy Jassy taking over the helm. In August, Amazon affirmed that Charlie Bell, a top executive in its cloud business, is leaving the organization. What’s more, Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, stepped down earlier this year.
Amazon procured Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion. The deal promptly sent shockwaves throughout the industry. Grocery stocks including those of Kroger and Sprouts Farmers Market plunged following the deal’s declaration, as investigators deciphered the takeover as a signal of Amazon’s desires to contend with traditional supermarket chains.
From that point forward, Amazon has dove further into grocery, launching an array of online grocery delivery services, alongside its own Fresh grocery chain and a chain of cashier-less convenience stores. Notwithstanding fears that it would overturn the grocery industry, Amazon actually faces steep competition from any semblance of Walmart, Target and Kroger.
Mackey in 1978 co-founded SaferWay, an Austin, Texas, natural grocery store that was the forerunner to Whole Foods. After two years, SaferWay joined with one more local natural supermarket to frame Whole Foods. It took off among Austin’s “counterculture hippie community,” Mackey told NPR, and proceeded to become a major player in the natural food market.
Before it was purchased by Amazon, Whole Foods was under activist pressure to sell itself as investors shrugged off its poor performance. The deal with Amazon met up under exceptional secrecy and was referred to internally as “Project Athena.” Following the acquisition, Amazon cut costs on numerous Whole Foods things and presented more Amazon signage in stores, alongside advantages for Prime members.