Seattle, WA—Suzy Monford has stepped down from her position as President and CEO of PCC Community Markets, according to The Seattle Times.
In a statement issued Saturday morning, Monford said: “I have made the difficult decision to leave PCC to pursue other career opportunities. Being part of PCC has been a very rewarding experience and I am fortunate to have been part of the co-op community.”
PCC offered no additional details regarding the reason for Monford’s departure, and will begin looking for a replacement immediately.
Monford joined PCC in December 2020, bringing over 30 years of experience in the grocery and restaurant industries, with posts at The Kroger Company, H-E-B Central Market, and Andronico’s Community Markets. The Times notes that her tenure at PCC was marked by challenges and controversy, starting with around $4 million in pandemic-related expenses. Those expenses led, in February, to Monford writing to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to oppose the City Council’s proposal for $4-an-hour hazard pay, in a letter in which she stated: “Unlike large corporate grocers who saw a large sustained uptick in sales nationwide, we have not had a sustained increase in sales and do not have a national footprint to rely on to offset these costs nor the cost of doing business in Seattle.”
As previously reported, the co-op’s grocery sales totaled $383.2 million in 2020, a 26.1% growth over the prior year. Membership went from 70,000 in 2019 to more than 95,000 today, the Times reports. Part of this growth is attributed to a new member benefit program that PCC reported drew in more members in the past year than in the decade prior, for a 35% increase in membership.
The impact of this can be seen in the company’s most recent Board election. The South Seattle Emerald reported back in May that Laurae McIntyre and Donna Rasmussen became the first PCC workers to reach the Board in 15 years, thanks entirely to high voter turnout—McIntyre and Rasmussen were not endorsed by PCC, and had to gather signatures from 2% of members to make the ballot; according to their union, UFCW21, the co-op reacted to signature gathering efforts outside stores with calls to police, although PCC has denied this. PCC also omitted both candidates from online voter guides that were emailed to all members, as well as informational posters in PCC stores and PCC’s annual membership meeting, where other candidates had the opportunity to promote the platforms.
The Times notes that McIntyre and Rasmussen ran in part due to the rising corporate sensibility represented by Monford: McIntyre told the Times that “it’s not much different than walking into any other grocery store in a chain.” One of the incumbents unseated by McIntyre and Rasmussen: Brad Brown, a retired REI executive who served as interim CEO before Monford took the position in December, and will again hold the position of interim CEO while PCC searches for a permanent replacement to fill the vacated spot.