The Arizona Food Marketing Alliance recognized Jim Nielsen, Sprouts Farmers Market chief operating officer, as Retailer of the Year at its Annual Excellence in Leadership Awards banquet – Arizona’s premier retail food industry event – on October 17 at the Phoenix Downtown Sheraton.
“I believe this is a team award, not an individual award. It’s about recognizing all of Sprouts’ incredible accomplishments that happen each and every day due to our dedicated team of more than 17,000,” said Nielsen. “There is nothing better than being recognized by our peers in the industry.”
Since joining Sprouts Farmers Market as Chief Operating Officer, Nielsen has been a driving force at the company, leading all merchandising initiatives for the healthy grocery store chain along with operations now spanning 10 states and close to 200 stores.
As the company more than doubled in size between 2011 and 2013, Nielsen was instrumental in completing the successful acquisition and integration of the Henry’s Farmers Market, Sun Harvest Market and Sunflower Farmers Market chains.
Prior to joining Sprouts, Nielsen served as president, vice president and general manager of Henry’s Farmers Market. From 2002 to 2006, he served in roles of increasing responsibility for Wild Oats Marketplace, including director of operations, director of non-perishables and director of merchandising. Nielsen began his career at Smith’s Food and Drug in 1986 where he held various positions.
AFMA president Tim McCabe said Nielsen was nominated several times from both a group of peers and constituents. “Jim has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities and passion for his role at Sprouts. He has been a big contributor to the continued success and growth of Sprouts, not just in the Arizona marketplace but throughout all their stores.”
This year’s ceremony also honored Paul Ratner, off-premise general sales manager at Southern Wine & Spirits, as the Supplier of the Year; and Don Olsen of Olsen’s Marketplace IGA, who was inducted into the Arizona Food Industry Hall of Fame.
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