Louis Martin, a veteran of The Coca-Cola Co., is joining United Natural Foods Inc. to fill the newly created position of chief digital and transformation officer. Among his new responsibilities is accelerating United Natural’s ecommerce growth plan.

United Natural Foods Inc., a major food distributor delivering more than 250,000 natural, organic, and conventional products to more than 30,000 grocers nationwide, is on a mission to aggressively expand digital commerce.

Ecommerce growth has accelerated at an unprecedented rate over the past 15 months.
Amanda Helming, chief marketing officer
United Natural Foods Inc.

The company, which generated $29.6 billion in sales for the 2021 fiscal year ended July 31, has hired a top digital executive and charged him with leading and accelerating its ecommerce plan.

United Natural Foods has named Louis Martin to the newly created position of chief digital and transformation officer. He will report to CEO Sandy Douglas.

Martin will oversee revenue management, mergers and acquisitions, continuous improvement, and the company’s project management office. He also will head up Fuel the Future, an enterprise plan for digital transformation for a more efficient supply chain, data standardization and better digital technology.-

Prior to accepting the job at United Natural, Martin worked for 15 years at The Coca-Cola Co. in a variety of roles. He led strategic initiatives as senior vice president of system evolution and oversaw the global customer operation for the Walmart Inc. account.

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“As we execute and evolve our Fuel the Future strategy, we are committed to building on both existing and new business platforms to deliver long-term, sustainable growth,” Douglas says.

Fuel the Future is a new strategic initiative United Natural launched in June. The four-point plan is designed to revamp and update the company’s distribution, custom experience, and approach to technology, including ecommerce.

“Ecommerce growth has accelerated at an unprecedented rate over the past 15 months,” chief marketing officer Amanda Helming told attendees at United Natural’s investor day conference in June. “If $1 in every $5 spent on groceries by 2025 is online, the good news is that UNFI has multiple ways to win in e-com.”

United Natural does not break out ecommerce sales, but the company is looking to generate digital revenue, Helming says.

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“We know that digital will play an increasing part of the future of food, and we’re really excited to be a part of it — we plan to triple our shipped ecommerce business … over the next several years,” Helming said. “Collectively, we expect these innovation platforms to deliver a significant portion of total company EBITDA by fiscal 2024.”

EBITDA — or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization — is used to indicate a business’ overall profitability.

For the second quarter of fiscal 2022 ended Jan. 29, United Natural reported net sales of $7.4 billion, an increase of 7.5% from $6.9 billion in Q2 fiscal 2021. Net income for the quarter was $66 million, compared with $59 million in the prior year.

Based in Providence, Rhode Island, United Natural Foods is a major supplier to Whole Foods Markets, Cub Foods, and other food retailers.

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