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After much thought and consideration, I have decided to voluntarily give up my title as Chairman of the Board.  While I don’t expect this to impact the day to day operations of the company in any way, I wanted to share the reasons for my decision with you.

 

I have held the Chairman title since Whole Foods Market’s beginning in 1978, but the reality is that today it is merely a title with no authority or responsibilities.  The authority and responsibilities normally associated with the Chairman position were all shifted over time to John Elstrott, after he became our Lead Director back in January 2001.  Despite this shift in responsibilities, Whole Foods, along with many other companies with combined CEO/Chairman roles, has been targeted by corporate governance activists for several years now seeking a separation of these roles.

 

The members of the Board and E-Team tried to talk me out of giving up the title; however, I don’t believe it is in the best interest of our company or our stakeholders to devote any more time or resources to fight this misperception over a title any longer.  John Elstrott will now take the title of Chairman of the Board, which will accurately reflect the authority and the responsibilities that he has had for many years.  I will remain a member of the Whole Foods Market Board and will continue to passionately serve as CEO, hopefully for many more years to come.

 

I remain incredibly excited about the future for Whole Foods Market!  As the world slowly moves out of the deep recession we’ve been in for most of the past two years, our company is well positioned to resume our growth and to continue to fulfill our company’s mission and core values.  Happy holidays to everyone.

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65 comments

Comments

Amy says …

Mr. Mackey, I think the timing of your recent decision to step down will have a very measurable deletrious consequence for your business. I watched you on Stossel's program - as you mention sales after your WSJ op ed were UP; I would predict you'll see a steady slide now based on the perception, right or wrong, that your company caves to intolerant liberal activists. In my mind, the advice you were given to stay on and fight the fight regarding your position as CEO was better for the company. Until you're back I'm boycotting the store - and believe me - I spent some$$ there over a number of years! But that's a considered personal choice on my part. I have known for years I've been shopping alongside a very close-minded small segment of society - a quick glance at the bumper stickers in the lot would clue you in - but when a group of them start demanding your resignation for expressing a view that differs from their own, and for whatever reason you DO resign, I just can't support that. Adiosito!

John J.B. Miller says …

I live in Kerrville but go to Whole Foods almost every time I come to Austin or San Antonio and have been a stockholder since almost the beginning. It's hard to understand how your personal philosophies can differ so much from that of your team members. On a cold day like today it's easy to say that global warming has stopped but I doubt it. We'll see this summer, won't we! When the Annual Reports listed the charities Whole Foods supported, I was pleased to see the Sierra Club and the House Rabbit Society. Please don't forget the chapters right in Austin: The Austin Group of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the House Rabbit Resource Network. Always your friend despite everything!

risingdamp666 says …

I hope you continue to do well in this new year and that Whole Foods continues to thrive as the world's top natural and organic retailer. The stores are wonderful as always and I look forward to more of them. Cheers!

Christen says …

All good things must come to an end. Everything changes. I'm sure you'll find some good things to do with your schedule a bit more free. John, I know that you are a voracious reader. I think you would be one of the few people who would read this book in an open-minded way: http://www.amazon.com/Vegetarian-Myth-Food-Justice-Sustainability/dp/1604860804

Margie says …

John, I strongly to almost fully support your decisions regarding Whole Foods and the success of the business. It is great and deserves smart people to keep it going. Furthermore it requires smart people to shop at the stores. I guess that makes me smart because I am a devoted customer. Always was, always will be. Thank you.

CW says …

John, You are the spirit of WFM. Your unique, ethical, out-spoken, intelligent perspective / stance is what (IMO) motivates TMs to love and respect WFM and in turn what draws many customers to the stores. There is something intangible yet powerful about your presence within the organization. I pray you stay on and continue to influence decision making with Whole Foods Market for a long time to come.

Theresa says …

John: We all must do what we must do to be true to ourselves. I respect the challenges you have undertaken as well as your recent decision. Your work ethic and attitude inspires me. My hope is that your stepping down will not change the overall vision of the company.

Michael Blanshan says …

Dear John, I just wrote and mistakenly suggested that you'd stepped down at least partly due to public opinion. In re-reading your comments, I see that is not the case. I'm sorry for the mistake. All the best, Michael

Liz says …

As an investor in WFMI when I got my mail from the Organic Consumer's Association saying you had stepped down at it was a win for some of their nutty left-wing ideas I went on the web to see what happened. Luckily you are still in charge. If John Mackey steps down for real, I will sell my stock. I can't tell you how many times my mom's friends told her that they just started shopping at WF after the editorial. They had not shopped their prior because they thought it was the province of left-wing nut cases. Many went for the first time to show support of John Mackey. Now we have the Scott Brown election that shows how the majority of Americans, including Democrats, feel about Obamacare. Likewise the global warming hysteria is not shared by most of the public. As we are watching our weather get colder every year it is really hard to believe in man-made global warming. The science is not conclusive and the only people I know who find it so are liberal arts majors. Most of us with actual science degrees know inconclusive research and unreasonable extrapolation, not to mention bad use of statistics when we see it. Thank heaven someone has the guts to speak up.

Diane O'Neal says …

I'm astonished by the people who will quit shopping at Whole Foods Markets because John Mackey has been "forced" out by those activists--he is still going to be involved in the company and the same people who ran it before will still be there--punish the activists not Whole Foods! We don't have a Whole Foods where I live and we need one! You really are a shining example for others, John!

Sally Berger says …

Thanks for giving up your title...now I can shop at my local Whole Foods Store again after months of boycotting it.

David Nowicki says …

I will no longer shop at Whole Foods like we used to. In addition I will tell all my friends to find out for themselves what happen here. Make thier buying decisions based on what they find out. Everytime I shop, I vote....

Shawn Sawyer says …

Mr. Mackey is truly an inspiration, one must only go back to the beginning and see that there are not many the large corporate grocers who care about there customers anymore. They only care about the bottom line and we as consumers are being duped even by the so-called organic companies. I have always tried to buy what's best for my family but it becomes increasingly harder with today's choices and today's economy to do what is best. I would love to work for a company like Whole Foods; who has a passion for providing the best products and for caring for us--the consumer. While our government and other big corporations don't. Please let me know who to forward my resume so I can perhaps share my passion for food and health.

Howard Callahan says …

John, whateva makes you happy on the decision to change titles...go for it. But what I really want you to go for is putting a Whole Foods in northwest Johnson County KS (say corner of K7 & W 55th St), it's the perfect location. There is an empty Price Chopper building just waiting for you to move in. Get'r done son....

Roger Reimer says …

I was surprised a company like yours wouldn’t do your reseach re not buy oil from Alberta Oil Sands. Canada produces 2% of the world green house gas and the oil sands produce 5% of that 2%. Yet you are will to buy oil from a Saudi Arabia dictatorship. If you in the USA don’t want to import oils do as your friends the Saudis do as they do don’t let your women drive.

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