BYRON CENTER — Food retailer and distributor SpartanNash Co. has fended off efforts by an activist investor group to seat three directors on the company’s nine-person board.
Following its annual shareholder meeting today, the Byron Center-based SpartanNash announced that the preliminary vote count provided by its proxy solicitor indicated that all nine of the company’s board nominees had been re-elected by a “wide margin.” SpartanNash (Nasdaq: SPTN) owns and operates 145 supermarkets and 18 distribution centers nationwide.
Final results of the voting, in addition to votes taken on a variety of additional proposals, will be available once submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Today’s annual shareholder meeting was a crucial one given the drama that preceded it. An activist investor group composed of New York City-based Macellum Advisors GP LLC and Cleveland-based Ancora Holdings Group LLC was lobbying to seat three directors to the board, lamenting that the current board featured longtime directors who had little to no grocery or distribution experience, as MiBiz reported last month.
The group, which owns 4.5 percent of the shares of SpartanNash common stock, in March nominated Macellum founder and CEO Jonathan Duskin, John Fleming, a board member with Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. and Rue21Holdings Inc., and Michael Lewis, who served as president of the Midwest Stores Division for Walmart Inc.
In late May, independent proxy adviser ISS recommended votes in favor of Lewis and Fleming, while fellow proxy adviser Glass Lewis recommended votes for all SpartanNash nominees.
“We appreciate the significant support for the company’s plan that we have received from our shareholders throughout this process,” SpartanNash said in a statement today. “Today’s outcome reinforces that SpartanNash shareholders recognize that the company’s strategy is working, and the company has the right board in place to continue guiding the business forward.”
“The board and management team will remain focused on executing the company’s ongoing transformation through our operating model and people first culture to drive long-term, sustainable value creation for our shareholders,” the statement continued. “We thank our 17,500 SpartanNash Associates for their continued dedication to serving our customers, our store guests and one another.”
The nine-person board consists of Douglas Hacker, Shân Atkins, Matthew Mannelly, Julien Mininberg, Jaymin Patel, Hawthorne Proctor, Pamela Puryear, Tony Sarsam and William Voss.
Sarsam, SpartanNash’s CEO, was hired in 2020 and proceeded to overhaul the company’s corporate leadership. Eight of the 10 corporate leaders were installed since early 2020, mostly under Sarsam’s watch.
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