Case Studies

Bristol Farms: From a Culture of Sarcasm to Exceeding Sales Numbers

Bristol Farms, a leading Southern California gourmet, organic, and natural foods retailer, had a clear mission to entice your passion for food beyond the everyday experience. They also had a culture challenge.


After a series of buyouts, Bristol Farms company culture suffered. Each investment company brought with it new priorities and business strategies. Every time the company adjusted to the changes, it was sold again. Constant change resulted in inconsistent expectations, a clash of cultures, and mixed messages. After many years with that kind of turnover, the culture was extremely dysfunctional, dissatisfied, and weary. A culture of sarcasm had taken root:

“There was old-school thinking, new-school thinking, thinking that didn’t work,” said Adam Caldecott, who became President & COO in 2015. Caldecott embraced culture change as a priority.


Caldecott brought in Culture Partners and introduced the Culture Equation Journey – a comprehensive, three-year process to shift their culture. Caldecott, along with senior leadership, identified and determined the company’s Cultural Beliefs and set the Key Results for the year: year-over-year growth of 5% sales and a 15% point of difference for products. This was a big stretch for the company. In the state of change, confidence was low around these goals.

But culture had never been operationalized before. Bristol Farms rolled out new Cultural Beliefs, from leadership to management. The management team immediately incorporated new process and tools, including:

  • Establishing a common language to encourage people to interact, communicate the Key Results, and hold each other accountable.
  • Incorporating feedback. Giving and receiving feedback became a daily habit, championed first and foremost by Caldecott. As a leader, he held himself accountable and held others accountable as well, driving a Culture of Accountability.


Through a focus on human interactions and scaling an intentional culture connected to sales goals, Bristol Farms not only achieved financial health but also surpassed its stretch goals. Bristol Farms crushed 2016, finishing the year at 7.7% in sales (a 2.7% increase over the previous year) and increasing the POD to 22%.

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