SALT LAKE CITY (FNS) -- American Stores Co. here said L.S. "Sam" Skaggs has stepped down as chairman after 16 years at the helm, citing recent health problems.
Succeeding him is Victor L. Lund, formerly president and chief executive officer. Lund was elected by the board to fill the chairman's post and retain the CEO slot during the company's annual meeting here last week.
In addition, David L. Maher, formerly senior executive vice president and chief operating officer for drugs, was elected president and chief operating officer of the company.
The executive changes were disclosed in conjunction with an organizational realignment related to the company's transition from a holding company to an operating company.
Skaggs, who did not attend the meeting because of recent back surgery, had been chairman since 1979 when Skaggs Drug Centers here acquired American Stores and adopted its name. He decided to take a less active role in the business but will remain a board
member, the company said.
Under his leadership, the company acquired Jewel Cos., Melrose Park, Ill., in 1984, adding Jewel Food Stores, Star Market Co. and the Osco and Sav-on drug stores to its operations. During his tenure, the company also acquired Lucky Stores, Dublin, Calif., in 1988, which made American Stores the third-largest food retailer.
American now operates 1,597 stores in 26 states, including 816 food stores in 11 states and 781 drug stores in 21 states. Sales in 1994 were $18.4 billion, with food store sales accounting for 71%, or $13 billion, and drug store operations accounting for the remaining 29%, or $5.4 billion.
At the meeting, Lund told shareholders the company has established a 10-member Executive Council, whose mandate will be to "look at the world with new eyes" and thereby guide the company's transition from a financial holding company to an efficient, aggressive operating company, ready to face a competitive future.
Lund explained that the council will look to identify and eliminate inefficient duplications among American's various operating entities, while continuing to satisfy existing customers and attracting new ones.
He termed the Executive Council's formation "the next logical step in our ongoing transition" from holding company to operating entity, which began in 1992.
In other executive changes, Martin A. Scholtens was named chief operating officer for retail, and William J. Bolton was named chief operating officer for markets.
Scholtens had been executive vice president and general manager of the Lucky Stores southern California division, Buena Park, Calif., while Bolton was executive vice president and general manager of Jewel Food Stores, Melrose Park, Ill.
Scholtens' job will be to "ensure that the entire company achieves the leverage, synergism and cross-fertilization from all our retail entities," Lund said.
"We want to make certain that the best attributes of each of our retail chains are outstanding perishables and exceptional customer service and sharp pricing -- qualities that, if shared, could reap benefits for the whole company."
Bolton's responsibility, said Lund, will be to balance assets, both food and drug, on a market region basis. Bolton also will be watchful for growth opportunities through new formats. "A lot of the impetus that will cause us to grow as we go forward is going to come from new concepts," Lund told shareholders.
In addition, Bob Hermanns, former senior executive vice president and chief operating officer for food, was named chief operating officer for procurement and logistics.
Hermanns' function, according to Lund, will be to "devise unified national services and logistics" to support Scholtens' and Bolton's strategies as efficiently and rapidly as possible. "This piece of our business is key to our future strategy as a low-cost operator," Lund said.
Meredith C. Anderson, vice president of public, government and investor relations, told SN that Hermanns will have ultimate responsibility for the Delta Group -- 120 operations and computer specialists who are in the midst of re-engineering American's various chains into a centrally managed infrastructure under the company's previously reported Delta Project.