- Blue Apron said Tim Bensley will become the company's new chief financial officer, according to a company statement. He is expected to assume his new role on May 21.
- Bensley has more than 30 years of finance and strategy leadership experience, including expertise in the consumer packaged goods and food retail industries, the meal kit company said.
- Bensley previously was the CFO at Acosta, Inc., a provider of multi-channel sales, marketing and business intelligence services to food and consumer packaged goods companies. Before joining Acosta, he served in a variety of positions at PepsiCo, where his responsibilities included overseeing supply chain operations and assisting in corporate strategy. He was promoted in 2010 to CFO of PepsiCo Americas Foods.
During its time as a public company, Blue Apron has had its share of challenges, including high marketing costs to attract and retain customers, subscription losses, costly facilities — including a fulfillment center in New Jersey that went live too early — and executive turnover. Last fall, the meal kit company named chief financial officer Brad Dickerson as its new CEO. Dickerson replaced co-founder Matt Salzberg, who stayed on as executive chairman of the company, creating a vacancy for the financial position.
In a statement, Dickerson said Blue Apron would benefit from Bensley's "relevant expertise in the food and consumer packaged goods space" and experience working with growth-oriented companies. "He will play an instrumental role in helping us achieve our strategic goals as we continue on the path of taking transformative actions to drive strong and sustainable growth,” he said.
It's uncertain why it took Blue Apron more than five months to fill the key role, using a search process Dickerson described as "rigorous."
Bensley and other executives will have their hands full to improve the beleaguered company. Its most recent earnings report earlier this month underlined some of the ongoing problems. Blue Apron said net revenue decreased 20%. Its customer rolls dropped to 786,000 active customers compared to 746,000 in the fourth quarter of 2017 and 1.04 million in the first quarter of last year.
The meal kit space is notoriously expensive and competitive. Albertsons-owned Plated, major grocers such as Publix and Kroger, along with retail giants Amazon and Walmart, are among the companies with large or growing presences in the space. HelloFresh recently overtook Blue Apron as the market share leader in U.S meal kits.
Blue Apron appears to have come to the realization that its future will depend on more than just delivering meal kits to people's homes that have come to define the company. It recently announced a pilot program with Costco to carry its product, part of an effort to expand the brand's reach across more households.
Bensley will likely play a role in helping to oversee efforts at the money-losing company to cut costs and work its way toward profitability. The company's losses are largely tied to how much it spends on marketing, but at the same time it needs to attract more people to have any hope of making money and remaining a viable going concern.
The competitiveness of the meal kit space means that its traditional service is unlikely to be enough to sustain the company. Blue Apron is hoping that Bensley will use his prior experience in the food space and insight into the consumer packaged goods and food retail industries to find other ways to broaden the company's brand. Blue Apron said recently it reaccelerated marketing efforts in the first quarter of 2018 with a focus on building efficient and sustainable growth.
Unless things change, Bensley and Blue Apron will need to find more ways to bring in revenue that could ultimately offset challenges in the delivery kit business. With many grocers having their own meal kits or partnering with companies that offer them, it's uncertain just how Blue Apron gets to that point.