AMERICAN STORES SHUFFLES TOP EXECUTIVE

SALT LAKE CITY -- American Stores Co. last week unveiled a series of high-level executive changes at the company's annual meeting here.American Stores chairman and chief executive officer, Vic Lund, announced the following changes:Dave Maher, formerly president and chief operating officer, is now vice chairman and chief operating officer, and was named to the company's board of directors.Teresa Beck,

SALT LAKE CITY -- American Stores Co. last week unveiled a series of high-level executive changes at the company's annual meeting here.

American Stores chairman and chief executive officer, Vic Lund, announced the following changes:

Dave Maher, formerly president and chief operating officer, is now vice chairman and chief operating officer, and was named to the company's board of directors.

Teresa Beck, who was chief financial officer, is now president of American Stores.

Neal Rider, formerly senior vice president for supply chain planning and administration, is now chief financial officer, succeeding Beck.

The executives could not be reached for comment.

Mark Husson, retail analyst at J.P. Morgan, New York, said the shakeup may have been prompted by recent declines in drug store earnings, as well as lackluster food-store performance in southern California, Philadelphia and Chicago, due to intense competition. "Whenever you have major problems in a company, and there has been a relatively stable management structure, but somehow the existing structure hasn't caught the problem, you have to reshuffle the responsibilities and provide fresh challenges in order to make sure they're not taking things for granted," he said.

"Teresa was not doing a bad job at all," Husson added. "She is being liberated to think more creatively and aggressively about the financial structure of American Stores."

Ed Comeau, a financial analyst with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, New York, said the announcement was somewhat of a surprise because "they really didn't tip their hand or indicate they were going to make these changes at all."

He said the most significant of the three changes was the elevation of Beck from chief financial officer to president.

"She's a very solid executive," Comeau said. "She was heavily involved in every aspect of the company's business anyway. This sort of formalizes that role."

Beck joined American Stores in 1982 and has held numerous posts, including vice president and controller of Alpha Beta Co., vice president and controller of American Stores, executive vice president of finance, and, most recently, chief financial officer.

Maher began his career with Osco Drug in 1963.