GRAND RAPIDS — After the ouster of its CEO last summer, SpartanNash Co. has found a new leader.
The Grand Rapids-based company, which distributes groceries to a wide range of retail stores and U.S military commissaries and exchanges, announced the hiring of Tony B. Sarsam as its new CEO.
Sarsam will take the helm at SpartanNash (Nasdaq: SPTN) and join the company’s board of directors on Sept. 21. Sarsam will take over for interim CEO Dennis Eidson, who will continue the role as chairman of the board and serve as executive chairman for 30 days to streamline the transition.
Sarsam brings prior experience in consumer products and supply chain expertise to the new role. He was most recently CEO of Texas-based Borden Dairy Company, which he departed in July. Before that, he served as CEO of Irwindale, Calif.-based Ready Pac Foods Inc., where he propelled the business to a 60-percent increase in revenue in less than five years.
Additionally, Sarsam has served in leadership roles at PepsiCo for more than 20 years and was also president of Nestle’s direct store delivery company.
Sarsam said he was “honored and humbled” to be SpartanNash’s next leader.
“I think of SpartanNash as over 100 years young, with a rich history and a promising future,” Sarsam said in a statement. “I am looking forward to working with our 19,000 dedicated associates to further strengthen our company and extend our success well into the future.”
In May, SpartanNash reported strong first quarter sales, which ended in mid-April. Sales in the retail business — which includes the Family Fare, Martin’s Super Markets, D&W Fresh Market, VG’s Grocery and Dan’s Supermarket brands — rose 42 percent in the final six weeks of the quarter.
The promising numbers come on the heels of volatility that saw the exit of former CEO David Staples, who left SpartanNash in August 2019.
Staples left as SpartanNash ran into operational issues with Caito Foods, which it acquired in 2017 for $217.5 million.
SpartanNash was forced to abandon Caito Foods’ Fresh Cut and Fresh Kitchen segments of the business. The exit from Fresh Cut led to 330 layoffs in Indianapolis.
Eidson, who previously served as CEO from 2008 to his retirement in May 2017, took the role back over as SpartanNash searched for its new leader.
“SpartanNash’s Board of Directors has conducted an extensive search over the past year, and we are extremely confident we have recruited an exceptional leader to continue the legacy of our company as a trusted provider of grocery products,” Eidson said in a statement. “Not only does (Sarsam) possess the background and expertise to lead SpartanNash in the coming years, his core values and history of visionary thinking and strategic execution are in direct alignment to achieve our vision to be a best-in-class business that feels local, where relationships matter.”
Sarsam will make $850,000 in base salary with the chance to receive up to 125 percent of that salary in bonuses, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The bonus is based upon his eligible earnings during fiscal year 2020.
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