Delhaize and Supervalu were among a host of food retail companies that shuffled their executive leadership

Delhaize and Supervalu were among a host of food retail companies that shuffled their executive leadership.

Turbulent Year for Executives at Troubled Retail Chains

Read more of SN's Year in Review: 2012 Rewrites Script for Many Food Retailing Companies

As 2012 came to a close, Delhaize America overhauled its top executive ranks, as new Chief Executive Officer Roland Smith shook things up in an effort to reverse sluggish performance at the company.

About two months into his new job, the former Wendy’s/Arby’s executive ousted Cathy Green Burns as the president of the struggling Food Lion banner, and named Beth Newlands Campbell, the former president of Food Lion sister chain Hannaford Bros., to succeed her. Brad Wise, who had been senior vice president of human resources for Delhaize America, was named president of Hannaford and Sweetbay, and Mike Vail, the former president of Sweetbay, was named chief supply chain officer for Delhaize America.

Those were among a flurry of executive changes at Brussels-based Delhaize, which has been seeking to reverse sluggish sales trends in the U.S.

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Minneapolis-based Supervalu, meanwhile, also undertook an executive overhaul that stretched through the entire year. It was capped by the exit of Craig Herkert, whose three-year effort to turn around Minneapolis-based Supervalu ended in July.

He was succeeded as president and CEO by Wayne C. Sales, the chairman of the board and a former CEO at Canadian Tire, who continues to both oversee the operations of the company and direct its ongoing strategic review.

Other high-level changes at Supervalu during 2012 included the departure in May of Sue Klug as president of the Southern California division and in October of Leon Bergmann as president of the company’s independent supply business. Both joined Unified Grocers — Klug as chief marketing officer and Bergmann as senior vice president of sales.

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Also in May, Supervalu said Pete Van Helden was leaving as executive vice president of retail operations, to be succeeded by Kevin Holt, who was named president of Supervalu retail.

Dan Sanders, who had been running Supervalu’s Acme division in Philadelphia, was named to take over Albertsons in Southern California, and Janel Haugarth, was moved to the newly created post of executive vice president, business optimization and process improvement; Tim Lowe was named executive vice president of merchandising; Robert Bly was named president of Supervalu’s Shoppers Food & Pharmacy chain in the Baltimore area, succeeding Lowe; and Bill Parker was named interim president of Supervalu’s Virginia Beach-based Farm Fresh division, succeeding Gaelo de la Fuente, who left to pursue other interests.

Tesco’s Fresh & Easy chain had a similarly turbulent 2012, as the company in May brought in Tim Ashdown, the former chief executive officer of Tesco China, to succeed Jeff Adams as chief retail officer. Later in the year, Tim Mason, who had been CEO of Fresh & Easy and had spearheaded the banner’s expansion in the U.S., was dismissed as Tesco said it would seek buyers for the 200-store chain after losing hundreds of millions of dollars.

More 2012 Executive Changes

Other top-level changes during 2012 were more routine. Among them:

• In January, Winn-Dixie confirmed that Randall Onstead would be CEO of the combined Bi-Lo/Winn-Dixie, and Peter Lynch would leave Winn-Dixie; Lori Raya was named president of the Vons division of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway, succeeding Tom Keller, who retired; Jerry Golub was named president and CEO of Schenectady, N.Y.-based Price Chopper Supermarkets, succeeding Neil Golub as CEO; Laura Karet was named CEO of Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, succeeding David Shapira; David Hirz was named CEO of Smart & Final, succeeding George Golleher; and Rosalind Brewer was named president and CEO of Sam’s Club, succeeding Brian Cornell.

• In February, private-label cooperative Topco Associates, Skokie, Ill., said Randy Skoda was named president and CEO, succeeding Steven K. Lauer.

• In March, Safeway said it had named Steve Frisby, president of its Portland, Ore., division, to assume added responsibility for the chain's Seattle division, succeeding Greg Sparks, who left the company; and Kroger promoted Tim Brown to president of the company's Delta Division, succeeding Mark Prestidge.

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• In April, Safeway said Robert Edwards was named president of the company, succeeding Steve Burd, who remains chairman and CEO; and Greg Sandeno was named president and CEO of C&K Market, Brookings, Ore., succeeding Doug Nidiffer.

• In May, Joe Kelley left as chairman, president and CEO of Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets to become president of Stop & Shop-New England, and was succeeded at Marsh by Bill Holsworth on an interim basis, and later in the year on a permanent basis by Thomas R. O’Boyle Jr.

• In June, Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based Sobeys said Marc Poulin would succeed Bill McEwan as its president and CEO, and Claude Tessier would succeed Poulin as president of Sobeys’ IGA division; and Kenny Family ShopRites named Chris Kenny president and CEO, succeeding company founder Bernard Kenny.

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• In July, Stan Alexander was named to succeed Gerry Totoritis as president and CEO of Associated Grocers of the South, Birmingham, Ala.

• In August, Doug Sanders, president of Sprouts Farmers Market, was named to the additional post of CEO, succeeding Shon Boney, who remains chairman.

• In November, Ahold said Carl Schlicker would retire as chief operating officer of Ahold USA, effective February 2013, to be succeeded by James McCann; and Nash Finch Co., Minneapolis, said it had named Kevin Elliot executive vice president of the company, and president and chief operating officer of Nash Finch Wholesale/Retail, succeeding Christopher Brown.

• In December, New Seasons Market, Portland, Ore., said it had named Starbucks veteran Wendy Collie president and CEO, succeeding Lisa Sedlar; Haggen Inc., Bellingham, Wash., said Gabe Gabriel had left the company and was succeeded by a three-person “office of the president” run by Clement Stevens, John Turley and Ron Stevens; URM Stores, Spokane, Wash., said Dean Sonnenberg plans to retire Feb. 28 as president and CEO, to be succeeded by Ray Sprinkle; and Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. elevated Lynn Gust to be president of the company’s Fred Meyer Stores division, succeeding Mike Ellis, who was named senior vice president of Kroger in November.