Changes in command continue to take place at Webvan, the online drug and grocery delivery service.
Robert Swan on Wednesday was promoted to chief operating officer, a newly
created position. He previously held the title of chief financial officer.
Additionally, Mark X. Zaleski, senior vice president of area operations,
resigned to accept a position of COO at a European-based Internet company.
Swan will lead the company’s areas operations as well as oversee its
marketing, merchandising, customer service and strategic alliance
The restructuring follows a last week’s announcement that George T.
Shaheen, the president and CEO of Webvan
company founder Louis H. Borders as chairman of the board of directors.
Management restructuring are not the only activities taking place at the
company. Within the past week, Webvan’s actions have put under the
microscope by the public, the media and within specific communities.
Last Friday, the company unveiled plans to move into a 400,000 square
foot building in the South Bronx region of New York City and provide at
least 900 jobs to the distressed community. City agencies embraced the idea
of what Webvan could bring to the community and courted the etailer by
collectively offering about $11 million in incentives.
By Monday, the company announced its growth plans had been scaled back,
with distribution center openings in Baltimore, Md., and New Jersey being
put on hold.
At that same time, industry analysts shed doubt on the company’s plan to
put the South Bronx operation into effect.
Bud Grebey, vice president of corporate affairs at Webvan, declined to
comment on speculation, but noted that “in the long term our goal is to do
business in the New York market. We have leased property, but we have not
released a timetable of our plans.”
Grebey noted that Webvan has not yet assumed possession of the South
Bronx building nor has any hiring been done.
In part, delays in opening new distribution centers were attributed to
the company’s recent acquisition of rival Homegrocer.com. It was suggested
by Goldman Sachs research that halting expansion plans temporarily would
give Webvan time to focus on merger integration.
In a prepared statement, Shaheen indicated that a solid management team
must be put in place to tie loose ends together.
“Clearly, as Webvan hones its focus on profitability goals and
accelerates the migration to a unified technology platform and a single
brand name, the company needs a seasoned world-class operating executive on
its leadership team,” said the statement.
“Bob has played a very operational role as CFO. I am confident that his
solid operating and finance background brings the right components of
experience and leadership to spearhead our focus on profitability,
integration and future growth.”
An external search is in place to fill the CFO position.
Grebey confirmed that additional management changes may take place. “As
we continue to integrate to a common technology platform we will access and
build our organization to support that,” he said.