comings & goings | Dec 12, 2023 |
Change at the top for Food52

Content-meets-commerce juggernaut Food52 is undergoing an executive shake-up: After just over a year in the top spot, CEO Alex Bellos is out. His departure was announced in an all-hands meeting with employees today. “Alex has stepped down as CEO—we’re grateful for his contributions to the company,” Food52 co-founder and executive chair Amanda Hesser tells Business of Home. “We have a strong management team and transition plan in place, and a search is underway for a new CEO to lead our excellent brands.”

The company has not named a replacement, though a source with knowledge of the situation said that Barstool Sports CEO Erika Badan—who sits on Food52’s board—will help with the transition.

Bellos joined Food52 in September of last year, leaving behind a role as president of West Elm. His arrival at the brand came in the midst of an expansive period. Over the prior 18 months, Food52 had purchased Danish cookware brand Dansk; acquired Portland, Oregon–based retailer and manufacturer Schoolhouse; and begun moving into a new 42,000-square-foot headquarters in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. What had started as a recipe blog in 2009 had become a sprawling, bicoastal operation employing more than 300.

Much of this expansion was fueled by investment from The Chernin Group: $83 million in 2019 and another round of $80 million in 2022, the latter pegging Food52’s value at $300 million. At the time of Bellos’s appointment in 2021, TCG partner Mike Kerns told BOH, “We had an incredible amount of interest and Alex stood out. We were thrilled by his background in Rejuvenation, his leadership at West Elm—it made sense on multiple fronts.”

Food52 has hit strong external headwinds in recent years, as overall web traffic, online shopping, and home spending all sharply dropped in the post-pandemic era. The company went through multiple rounds of layoffs last year, and reviews on Glassdoor—a site that collects anonymous feedback from employees—point to recent internal strife.

Meanwhile, commentary on Schoolhouse’s Instagram page suggests the company has had customer service issues. “Tried calling several times, no reply,” wrote one. “I think the only answer is going to be to cancel my order. I’m sure that’s not gonna be easy.”

Hesser says the brand is aware of both external and internal challenges and is working on addressing them. “We want to make sure every customer feels taken care of, and we want to create a great environment for our employees—treating people well is part of our core values and we’re always striving to do better.”

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