A group of shareholders in Whole Foods Market have proposed the separation of the chief executive and chairman roles through a shareholder proposal filed with the Securities and Exchange commission today (22 January).

The proposal calls for an independent director who has not served as an executive officer for the retailer to be appointed chairman of Whole Foods' board.

"Separating the roles of chairman and CEO can promote greater management accountability to shareholders and lead to a more objective evaluation of our CEO"' the proposal claimed.

The board of Whole Foods responded by recommending that shareholders oppose the proposal, suggesting that it wouldn't improve corporate governance or benefit the company.