As Fairway Market (there is a market on 125th Street, near the Harlem pier) prepares for its initial public offering, it is also getting the word out about a significant management change that potential investors should know about—the appointment of a new chief executive.This week, the grocer added a few lines on its website acknowledging that Herbert Ruetsch, 53, assumed the job in January after long-time CEO, Howard Glickberg (on the left in the photo above) —whose grandfather founded Fairway nearly 80 years ago—stepped down. Mr. Glickberg, 65, has been the vice chairman of development since December 2011.
“We are a private company and as such there is no need to make a public announcement about the appointment of a new CEO,” Nathalie Augustin, senior vice president and general counsel of Fairway Group Holdings Corp., said in an email.
Until this week there was no mention of Mr. Ruetsch anywhere on the company’s website.
“Changes like this in private companies are often initiated by institutional investors to create a succession plan to grow the company to the next level or by founding entrepreneurs who want to have less day to day responsibility,” said Joshua Goldberg, managing director of investment bank Financo, adding that Fairway was not obligated to announce the transition.
That will change, of course, if Fairway goes public. In the meantime, the company declined to address the reasons for the switch.
Mr. Ruetsch, a certified public accountant, joined the company in 1998 as the chief financial officer after spending 16 years at Grand Union in various financial positions. He became chief operating officer of Fairway in 2007 and added president to his title in 2010 until March 2012.
Industry insiders were surprised to learn that Mr. Glickberg is no longer chief executive and some thought it was unusual for the company to keep the change so quiet.
Over the past decade online grocer FreshDirect, another private company, has had five chief executives. Each one was announced in a press release.
In 2007, private equity firm Sterling Investment Partners of Westport, Conn., took a majority stake in Fairway with a $150 million investment. It has since invested tens of millions more to open more stores. There are 10 Fairway’s in the New York metro area and three in the pipeline.
Charles Santoro, managing partner of Sterling, is also chairman of Fairway. Bill Sanford, an operating partner at Sterling, is the chief financial officer of Fairway and recently became its president.
- Fairway Market Files For IPO To Meet Demand (harlemworldmag.com)