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About David

Co-Founder and Former CEO, FreshDirect

David McInerney brings 3 decades of experience unlocking value creation and profitable growth for consumer and retail businesses as a CEO, Founder and Board director in the food retailing and restaurant industries. Most recently, David was the co-founder, CEO and a board member of FreshDirect, the nation's leading online grocer which he sold to Ahold Delhaize and Centerbridge Partners in 2021. He currently serves on the board of directors for the New York Common Pantry, whose mission is to reduce hunger and promote dignity, and the board of advisors of Lekka Burger, a plant based burger restaurant concept. David is a recognized expert, advisor and speaker on a broad range of topics including the digital transformation of the food industry, food sourcing, driving company culture, and entrepreneurship.

In 2000, drawn to the mission to revolutionize the brick-and-mortar supermarket model, David joined the founding team at FreshDirect, which delivered its first order in June 2001 and today employs 3,000+ team members across 7 states and delivers hundreds of thousands of orders a month. Over the past 20 years, David led many of the core business functions including operations, buying and merchandising, culminating in being named CEO in 2018. As CEO, David implemented an aggressive plan to streamline the business, focusing on the core mission of making great food easy to get. Through a 5 pillar strategy that emphasized simplicity, transparency, and empowerment, coupled with a sophisticated incentive program, the team achieved record levels of revenue growth, net promoter scores, and consumer retention.

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In 2021, David led the sale of FreshDirect to Ahold Delhaize, parent company of grocers such as Stop & Shop and Food Lion, and one of the world’s largest food retailers, and Centerbridge Partners, a leading private equity firm. He remains an advisor to the company through the end of the year.

Beginning in 2008 and for more than a decade, David served as Fresh Direct’s “Chief Food Adventurer”, traveling the world to source the best-tasting, freshest, and highest-quality foods. He and his team devoted all of their time learning about, investigating, exploring, and, of course, tasting fresh food. Through his food sourcing travels David developed deep relationships with food producers: the best of the best farmers, fishermen, ranchers and CPG leaders. This solidified FreshDirects position as the best online grocery retailer in the world, with an unrivaled fresh supply chain that pulled the highest quality product from the best growers, fishermen, and ranchers in the world. By starting with the highest quality products, FreshDirect was then able to leverage state of the art manufacturing and distribution facilities to offer customers fresher food, direct from the farm.

David started his career as a chef alongside top restaurateurs, including the late Bernard Loiseau in Burgundy, and David Bouley in New York City. He attended the Culinary Institute of America.

He lives with his wife and their two sons in Harlem, New York., and Bellport, Long Island. He is an avid fisherman, skier and cook.

David in Action
Speech Topics

The North Star of Business

Differentiation – At the core of FreshDirect’s business model has been a steadfast dedication to quality and freshness. Maintaining that focus for over 20 years spurred consistent growth including local market domination, in the face of harsh competition from already established retail leaders. David shares the story of how that mentality shaped the success of Fresh Direct. Hear how finding the distinct elements that separate your business from your competition, and deploying resources towards that specialty will become your north star.

Trust & Transparency Starts from Within

Empowering a Team – As CEO, David’s focus was having every employee committed to the freshness and quality their customers would demand. Empowering thousands of FreshDirect employees to make decisions with quality in mind showed the trust the company had in the entire workforce. With transparent ratings on thousands of products online, customers could feel safe about their decisions. David shares how he created a culture around an idea, which through a shared goal, gave both employees and customers a bond with the business.

Leading Through Turbulence

Upon his elevation to CEO, David McInerney took over a company fraught with angry customers complaining of broken eggs, missing items, and spoiled fruit. At the root of the problem was a brand new 400,000 square foot distribution center with an automated system that was creating confusion resulting in canceled orders, missing items, and delayed deliveries. David refocused the company on customer service, the freshest ingredients, and employee empowerment, and was able to overcome the many logistical challenges that the company faced. On the brink of becoming a failed start-up, David’s clear and concise vision led FreshDirect into a dominant food provider, and ultimately led to the recent acquisition. David shares his principles of leadership and outlines the key elements to navigating turbulence successfully.

Farm to Fork

Changing the Way We Eat – As Co-Founder and CEO of FreshDirect, David McInerney’s mission for 20 years was making great fresh food easy to get. David brought the skills he learned as a French trained chef and married them with local and global farmers, ranchers, and fisherman, bringing higher quality fresh food to millions. With a rare view across the entire sustainable food ecosystem, and building a technological infrastructure enabling digital shopping and delivery services, David shares stories from his pioneering journey creating the largest online grocer in the US.