Shakeups In the C-Suite: Rite Aid, SpartanNash, Yum! and More

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie goodman

From retirements to corporate shakeups, this week brought news of several retail CEO swaps, including updates from Rite Aid, SpartanNash, and Yum! Brands. In addition, A.C. Moore, Claire's Stores and Party City Retail Group all made new CEO appointments last month. Below we update you on all the upheaval in the retail C-Suite over the last month.

Heyward Donigan

Rite Aid

News of Rite Aid Corp.’s appointment of the chain’s second female CEO came on Monday when the board of directors appointed Heyward Donigan.

As planned, John Standley will step down from his role as CEO. Donigan became both CEO and a member of the board.

"I am deeply honored to have been selected to lead a company with such a strong brand, deep culture and dedicated team of associates,” said healthcare veteran Donigan. “I see tremendous opportunity to revitalize the company's position as a leader in meeting the health and wellness needs of customers and patients through our store and pharmacy benefit management platforms.”

"Today's announcement is an important step in positioning Rite Aid for the future, and we are confident that Heyward is the right person to lead the company in capitalizing on the opportunities in the evolving healthcare environment," said Bruce Bodaken, chairman of Rite Aid's board of directors. "Over the past several months the Rite Aid Board conducted a thorough search, and Heyward's strong senior executive experience, proven leadership capabilities and consistent track record of driving profitable growth, as well as her broad healthcare knowledge and digital shopping technology expertise set her apart.”

Donigan most recently served as the president and CEO of Sapphire Digital (formerly Vitals). Since 2015, Donigan lead Sapphire Digital's strategy and operations to record growth and consumer engagement. Prior to Sapphire Digital, Donigan was president and CEO of ValueOptions, where she drove innovation through disciplined execution and grew company revenues to over $1 billion. Previously, she served as EVP & CMO at Premera Blue Cross, where she helped the company achieve record growth and profits. Earlier in her career, Donigan served as senior vice president of all operations at Cigna Healthcare.

In March, Rite Aid announced a restructuring plan to better align with the retailer’s operations and reduce costs, which included that Standley would step down as CEO. Rite Aid also Rite Aid also announced additional management changes at the time, and revealed it would eliminate approximately 400 positions, or more than 20% of the corporate positions located at the retailer’s headquarters and across the field organization. 

“I’d like to thank our talented Rite Aid team for their dedication and support in taking great care of our customers and patients throughout my tenure,” said Standley. “I have tremendous confidence in this team and I’m excited about the future prospects of this company.”

L-R: Dave Staples, Dennis Eidson


Following the resignation of president and CEO David Staples, SpartanNash Co.’s board of directors appointed the company’s chairman, Dennis Eidson, to the additional roles of interim president and CEO on Monday.

Eidson will serve in these additional roles until SpartanNash’s next CEO is identified. Eidson served as CEO from 2008-2017, and previously served as SpartanNash's president, COO and EVP of Marketing and Merchandising during his 16-year tenure with SpartanNash. Staples is leaving both the company and the SpartanNash Board.

"The Board remains confident in the company's strategic direction and its ability to generate top line growth; however, execution has fallen short of our expectations and we believe that now is the time for a leadership change," said Douglas Hacker, lead independent director of the board. "I want to thank Dennis for returning to the leadership position to guide the company's efforts in revitalizing performance and maximizing long-term shareholder value.

“On behalf of the board, I also want to thank Dave for his contributions to SpartanNash throughout his tenure. Since joining the company in 2000, Dave has presided over numerous successful business initiatives and has been instrumental in driving SpartanNash's growth. We wish him well in the future."

"I am confident in the strength of our platform and look forward to working with our talented team to deliver improved performance," said Eidson. "Our focus will be on enhancing our distribution business, driving operational execution and organizational development while positioning SpartanNash to achieve long-term profitable growth and improved value for shareholders. In order to provide transparency, we have elected to preview our second quarter financial results, as well as our current outlook for the balance of the year."

Along with the preview of its quarterly results, SpartanNash revealed the decision to exit its Indianapolis-based Fresh Kitchen operations to boost operating earnings and EBITDA results within its food distribution segment. According to the company, it will shift its focus and expertise to its produce distribution and fresh-cut operations.

David Gibbs

Yum! Brands

Yum! Brands, Inc. – operators of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell announced David Gibbs was unanimously elected CEO, effective January 1, 2020, by its board of directors. Gibbs has also been appointed to the board, effective November 1, 2019.

Gibbs, who currently serves as Yum! Brands president and COO and oversees the global KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell divisions, will succeed Greg Creed, who announced he will retire at the end of 2019 after a 25 years with the company.

“I’ve had the privilege of partnering with our franchisees to grow the three iconic brands within the Yum! Brands portfolio for over 30 years and am honored to follow in Greg’s footsteps,” Gibbs said. “It's thanks to Greg’s terrific leadership and innovative brand building during some of the most pivotal moments in our history that Yum! Brands has emerged as a vibrant and industry-leading growth company.”

 “The board and I are confident that David Gibbs is the ideal leader to drive the next chapter of global growth for the company,” said Brian Cornell, non-executive chairman of the Yum! Brands board of directors and chairman and CEO of Target Corporation. “He has played a central role in all that Yum! Brands has accomplished over the past several years and understands the need to put customers, employees, franchisees and shareholders at the center of everything. David will build on the company’s position of strength to ensure it is well equipped for the future.”

Since joining in 1989, Gibbs has held a variety of leadership roles in all three of YUM’s brands including global strategy, finance, general management, operations and real estate. Earlier this year, he was promoted to an expanded role as president and COO, assuming operating leadership of the global KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell divisions.

Before, he served as Yum! Brands president and CFO and was the chief architect of Yum! Brands’ financial, refranchising and restaurant development strategy to transform the company into a capital-light, pure-play franchisor. Previously, he was CEO of the global Pizza Hut Division, and president and CFO of Yum! Restaurants International, responsible for growing KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell outside the U.S. and China. Gibbs also served as Yum! chief strategy officer.

“I am excited to accept this new role as we conclude the third and final year of our company’s strategic transformation,” Gibbs said. “Everywhere we operate, we need to continue elevating and investing in a world-class customer experience, with unrivaled talent, modern assets, the best operations and innovative technology.”

Creed served as Yum! Brands CEO since 2015 and successfully executed the 2016 spinoff of Yum China. Since 2017, Yum! Brands has transformed its business model to over 98% franchised, while increasing G&A efficiency and significantly reducing capital expenditures. Before his time as Yum! Brands CEO, Creed led the global Taco Bell Division as its CEO.

“It has been an incredible journey at Yum! Brands during the past 25 years and my absolute privilege to serve as CEO during such an exciting time for our company,” said Creed. “I’m proud of how we’re emerging from our multi-year transformation as a more focused, franchised and efficient growth company. The best of Yum! is still to come and I’m delighted we have an exceptional leader like David who will drive the next wave of growth for our company.”

Creed remains CEO through the end of 2019 to ensure a smooth and seamless transition. He will serve as a part-time advisor next year and also remain on the Yum! Brands board of directors.

“Greg Creed is one of the most talented and passionate brand builders in the restaurant industry today,” said Cornell. “On behalf of the board of directors, I want to sincerely thank Greg for his focus on building great brands, strengthening franchise capabilities, expanding the company’s global footprint and leveraging Yum! Brands’ world-class culture and talent to fuel results.”

Anthony Piperno

A.C. Moore

At the end of July, A.C. Moore announced the appointment of Anthony Piperno as president and CEO of the arts and crafts retail chain. Piperno will succeed current CEO Pepe Piperno, who will transition to the role of chairman.

Throughout his tenure, Anthony has helped transform and revitalize the business, spearheading major investments and developments in the company's omnichannel offerings, most notably the company's brick and mortar expansion into new markets and formats as well as the launch of e-commerce on Anthony is also the driving force behind the newly revealed A.C. Moore Marketplace for creative entrepreneurs, which adds a new facet to creative commerce, establishing a deeper connection with handmade entrepreneurs and empowering them to share their goods with the world.

"Anthony is a proven leader who possesses a deep understanding of our business, the industry, and the needs of our customers," said Pepe Piperno. "As president and CMMO, he has brought consistent forward-thinking success to the company. I am beyond proud of Anthony's accomplishments and am very excited to pass the torch and watch him drive the company we love to the next level."

"I am honored to be named CEO and lead this exceptional organization of creative and talented team members into the future," said Anthony Piperno. "I hope to continue to unlock expansion opportunities within the industry and work diligently to advance A.C. Moore's growth strategy, driving the continuous evolution of the company."

Brad Weston

Claire's Stores & Party City Retail Group. 

Last month, Claire's Stores, Inc. appointed veteran retail executive Ryan Vero as CEO, who was most recently was president of Party City Retail Group. Party City Holdco then announced that Brad Weston was appointed as president of Party City Holdco Inc. and CEO of Party City Retail Group. As CEO of Party City Retail Group, Weston will lead all aspects of the company's retail operations, replacing Ryan Vero.

As president of Party City Retail Group, Vero oversaw nearly 1,000 retail stores in North America and Europe, as well as e-commerce and web operations. Previously, he served in executive leadership roles at Sears and OfficeMax, where he spearheaded key consumer business lines, as well as e-commerce, marketing and merchandising operations.

"Ryan's track record of growth through innovation makes him the ideal leader to drive Claire's into the future. We look forward to this new era for Claire's," said Samantha Algaze, chairman of the Claire's board.

Kevin Corning, who served as interim CEO of Claire's since March, is supporting Ryan's transition and will then return to his role on the Claire's Board, where he has served since October 2018.

At Party City Holdco, Weston will report directly to James M. Harrison, CEO of PCHI. As president of PCHI, Weston will play a key role in driving the company's strategic growth initiatives across its vertically integrated business.

"I am very excited to join Party City, which is renowned for its strong retail and wholesale platform and integrated vertical model,” said Weston. “I look forward to working with Jim and the rest of the Party City management team to help the entire Company execute on its strategic initiatives."

Weston most recently served as CEO at Petco, where he held several leadership positions of increasing responsibility from 2011 to 2018. During his tenure at Petco, the company grew more than 50% and increased market share in the fast growing pet sector.

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