AUSTIN, TEXAS — John Mackey, who co-founded Whole Foods Market in 1980, has announced his intent to retire on Sept. 1, 2022, after four decades at the helm of the natural foods grocer. Jason Buechel, currently chief operating officer at Whole Foods, will take over as CEO following Mr. Mackey’s retirement next year.

“Honestly, it’s very hard to retire from a company that I have helped to create, nourish and grow for 44 years when I leave,” Mr. Mackey said. “As a co-founder of Whole Foods, I’ve often explained my relationship to the company with a parent-child metaphor. As a parent, I have always loved Whole Foods with all my heart. I have done my best to instill strong values, a clear sense of higher purpose beyond profits, and a loving culture that allows the company and all our interdependent stakeholders to flourish. All parents reach a time when they must let go and trust that the values imparted will live on within their children. That time has nearly come for me and for Whole Foods.”

Mr. Buechel joined Whole Foods in 2013 as global vice president and chief information officer and was promoted in 2015 to executive vice president before being named COO in 2019. In addition to being responsible for the operations of all Whole Foods stores and facilities, he oversees technology, supply chain and distribution, and Team Member Services (TMS). Prior to joining Whole Foods, Mr. Buechel was a managing director and partner at Accenture.

“Jason is one of my most trusted partners and I’m incredibly confident that the company will continue to evolve and thrive under his leadership,” Mr. Mackey said. “Jason has a number of very special qualities that will help him succeed as our next CEO. Not only is he extraordinarily intelligent with unusually high integrity, he is also a servant leader who lives and embodies Whole Foods Core Values and Leadership Principles and is fundamentally just a good and loving person.”

Mr. Mackey said he will continue to work closely with Mr. Buechel and the E-Team to gradually transition his responsibilities. He said he plans to spend his final year at Whole Foods doing the thing he loves most — visiting stores and connecting with as many team members as possible.