IGA HIRES U.S. EXECUTIVES FOR INDONESIAN CHAIN

CHICAGO -- IGA here said last week it has hired two industry veterans to oversee retail and distribution operations for Matahari IGA in Indonesia.who will become senior chief operating officers for retail and distribution, respectively, for Matahari, a chain of 60 conventional supermarkets based in Jakarta, Indonesia.Matahari, which is Indonesia's second largest chain, became an IGA member in March.Stewart

CHICAGO -- IGA here said last week it has hired two industry veterans to oversee retail and distribution operations for Matahari IGA in Indonesia.

who will become senior chief operating officers for retail and distribution, respectively, for Matahari, a chain of 60 conventional supermarkets based in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Matahari, which is Indonesia's second largest chain, became an IGA member in March.

Stewart spent 32 years with American Stores, ending his career there as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Jewel Cos., Chicago, from 1990 to 1993.

Stewart spent the next three years as a consultant to Al Azizza-Panda United, a chain of 32 supermarkets and 32 fast-food restaurants in Saudi Arabia. In 1997 he joined Flying J., Brigham City, Utah, as vice president, food services, for 188 full- and quick-service restaurants in 38 states.

Meadows spent four years as sales manager and subsequently manager of store development for the Cincinnati division of Super Food Services, Miamisburg, Ohio. When Super Food was acquired by Nash Finch Co., Minneapolis, in 1996 he became vice president and general manager of the Cincinnati operation. Meadows then left two years later to work as an independent consultant for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Overseas Emerging Market program for Asia and as guest general manager for Liberty Market IGA, a pair of American-style supermarkets in Singapore operated by NTUC FairPrice IGA.

For the next two to three years, beginning next week, Stewart and Meadows will work with Matahari retail and distribution executives, respectively -- whose expertise is more in the area of department store operations, IGA said -- to expand their ability to operate food stores and prepare them to take over subsequent training programs.

IGA said it expects to hire additional experts in various areas of the retail food industry as the Matahari project progresses.

According to Thomas S. Haggai, president and CEO of IGA, efforts to mentor Matahari executives is part of IGA's "twining" program -- an intense process of knowledge transfer in which IGA provides experts from different areas of the food industry to work hand-in-hand with executives from member companies.

"Twining also allows knowledge to be co-created between the experts and the host executives," he added. "Sharing knowledge throughout the organization gives the entire team the competence to run an efficient business."

Matahari's 60 supermarkets do an annual volume of approximately $600 million. The stores, located on the ground floor of four-story department stores, average 10,000 to 15,000 square feet, although the company has experimented with a couple of stores in the 60,000-square-foot range as Carrefour and Wal-Mart have entered Indonesia.

Vincent Kong, president of IGA Asia, told SN Matahari is "still fairly primitive by food-store standards. Merchandising standards are low, and its knowledge of food is limited. It's not sophisticated enough to compete with more established foreign supermarket operators, and now it wants to step up to the next level, but it needs a lot of help."

Kong said IGA has been working with Matahari for two years, assigning retail counselors to determine how the operation can be improved. "We identified the strengths and weaknesses of each store and put an action plan together to fix all problems and to raise all standards," he explained.

IGA also worked with Matahari to rationalize inventory and to make all stores more consistent in their operating standards, Kong said.

After working with IGA, Kong said conditions at Matahari have improved dramatically, with sales up 48%.