Austin, TX—On December 24, John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, announced he would step down as the chain’s chairman of the board, but continue on as CEO. John Elstrott will assume the role of chairman.

Mackey, who has been chairman of the retail giant since 1978, has been embroiled in his fair share of controversies over the past couple years. Most recently, he made headlines with his stance on healthcare, which caused shoppers to boycott the store and shareholders to call for his resignation as CEO and chairman.

The move is voluntary, Mackey said on his blog ( “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,” he stated. Mackey implied that the reason for the shift in titles is because corporate governance activists have targeted Whole Foods since the roles of CEO and chairman of the board were held by the same person.


Published in WholeFoods Magagzine, Feb. 2010