WALKER — Chris Sherrell, a veteran grocery executive who worked with Meijer Inc. to launch the Fresh Thyme Farmers Market concept in 2012, has stepped down from the company.
Sherrell, who served as president and CEO, is being replaced by Gerald Melville, the regional vice president of stores at Walker-based Meijer, which owns the 77-store Fresh Thyme chain via a subsidiary.
“As happens with many entrepreneurs, as Fresh Thyme has matured, I am ready for my next challenge,” Sherrell said in a statement.
The move comes within weeks of Downers Grove, Ill.-based Fresh Thyme confirming that it was closing three stores in Ames, Iowa and Omaha and Grand Island, Neb., two of which had been in business for less than a year. The company also closed two stores in Ohio and Kentucky earlier in the year.
Melville, a 39-year retail industry veteran, most recently oversaw nearly 50 Meijer supercenter stores in Illinois and Wisconsin, where the family-owned retailer expanded in 2015. He will hold the title of president at Fresh Thyme.
“Fresh Thyme is a dynamic brand with an ideal offering for today’s health conscious customer,” stated Melville, who joined Meijer in 2009 after holding senior positions at Albertson’s and Supervalu.
Fresh Thyme operates a store at 2470 Burton St. SE in Grand Rapids. The chain offers a range of fresh meats and seafood, bulk foods, and minerals and vitamins, as well as organic, gluten-free and dairy-free options in a footprint of about 30,000 square feet, a fraction of the size of a 200,000-square-foot Meijer supercenter.
Meijer also operates a handful of small-format urban stores such as Bridge Street Market in Grand Rapids, Capital City Market in Lansing and Woodward Corner Market in Royal Oak.