September 8, 2004, 12:00 AM

Fresh Direct restocks with new senior management

Web grocer Fresh Direct promotes Dean Furbush to CEO and hires former Weis and Wegmans executive Steve Michaelson as president. The company is strengthening management as it plans growth and faces new competition in its core market of New York City.

Fresh Direct Inc., which is in a race with Peapod.com to become the online grocer of choice to busy New Yorkers, is shaking up the ranks of its senior management.

On Tuesday, Fresh Direct, which had 2003 annual sales of $125 million and a base of more than 200,000 customers in New York City, one of the nation’s most concentrated grocery and food service markets, named Dean Furbush as the new CEO.

Furbush, who was the company’s chief operating officer, replaces Jason Ackerman who assumes the role of vice chairman and remains Fresh Direct’s chief financial officer.

In addition to naming Furbush to the top executive slot, Fresh Direct also appointed Steve Michaelson, formerly senior vice president with Weis Markets and Wegmans, as president.

Fresh Direct, No. 55 in Internet Reatiler`s Top 300 Guide to online retailers, made the additions and changes to senior management as the company makes the transition from a start-up operation to becoming an established web retailer. “Fresh Direct isn’t just a start-up anymore,” Ackerman says. “Dean’s management expertise, and Steve’s retail, merchandising and marketing experience will enable us to take the company to the next level.”

Solid senior management will be a key factor for Fresh Direct going forward as it looks to become the top online grocer in New York City and all of its boroughs. Unlike other web grocers who had ambitious plans of becoming national players, Fresh Direct is concentrating on metropolitan New York and on building up its existing core business in Manhattan and Queens.

But other web grocers, including Peapod, also have their eye on the New York City market. Peapod, with a base in Long Island, also expects to increase its presence in Manhattan and elsewhere.

 

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