Dwight Richmond, the Global Grocery Purchasing Coordinator for Whole Foods for the past six years, is leaving the company.
Word that Richmond was leaving the company began circulating last week. It’s a significant change at the chain: Richmond teamed with Executive Global Grocery Coordinator Errol Schweizer to debut many new products — including a new emphasis on high pressure processed juice and edgy ideas like Chia and Turmeric drinks and bars, as well as a focus on product certifications such as Non-GMO and biodynamic and vetted supply chains to prove out the conscious origins of many Whole Foods products.
Richmond has had the demanding job of screening and developing new grocery items for the 500-plus store chain since 2009. As part of his role, he managed over 70 categories for the retailer, which produced a sales volume of over three billion dollars. On his LinkedIn profile Richmond describes his primary responsibilities as “to work with vendors, distributors, regions and other stakeholders to develop a best in class grocery program.” During his tenure with the company, Richmond was the Whole Foods Global Support All Star Winner in 2012 and 2013.
The Austin resident did not comment on the situation; his last day is scheduled for Oct. 16.
Several other high-visibility buyers have also left the company fairly recently. In 2013, Jeremiah McElwee, a 16-year veteran who served as Executive Global Whole Body Coordinator, left the chain, while this year key Southern Pacific region buyer Ana Yoo left. Both have started working for online natural products retailing platform Thrive Market. Karin Geiselhart, the former Mid-Atlantic Regional Buyer for Prepared Foods & Bakery also departed the retailer this year to join natural products company Mom Made Foods as their Senior Operations Manager.
Whole Foods recently announced they were eliminating numerous positions and conducting nationwide layoffs. The net loss is expected to total 1,500 employees. Yesterday the retailer announced that they were partnering with software company Infor to build a cloud based retail management system. The software is expected to help create “efficient processes for a wide variety of strategic merchandising and supply chain management functions.”
It is yet to be seen how exactly this software will affect how the company conducts its buying and thus whoever steps in to fill the role created by Richmond’s vacancy.