FLETCHER, N.C. — Michael Cianciarulo has resigned as president and chief executive officer of Earth Fare, the company said, a little more than a year after the growing natural and organics chain was acquired by private equity firm Monitor Clipper Partners.
Named to succeed him as president and CEO of Earth Fare, which is based here, was Jack Murphy, a director at the company. In 1992 he was one of the founders of Fresh Fields, the natural and organics chain that was acquired by Whole Foods in 1996.
Cianciarulo, a veteran of traditional supermarket chains, had joined Earth Fare in 1998 and grew it from two locations to 13 stores generating more than $100 million in annual sales, the company said.
“He came here and helped us get on our feet financially and growth-wise,” said Troy DeGroff, director of sales and marketing at Earth Fare. “I think he was ready for the next phase of his life.”
DeGroff said Cianciarulo had announced his plans to retire internally last April, and that the company had conducted an extensive search for a successor.
Murphy, he said, brings entrepreneurial experience to the chain, having grown Fresh Fields rapidly in the 1990s before selling it to Whole Foods Market. He has been a director for about a year.
In an interview with SN in December, Cianciarulo said Earth Fare planned to open four locations in 2008, including its first store in Alabama, in the city of Auburn. The other stores are planned for South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee.
“All our growth plans remain on track, and we are actively looking for other locations throughout the Southeast,” DeGroff told SN last week.