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.