11 CHARLES JENKINS JR. CEO, Publix Super Markets KEY DEVELOPMENTS: Launched multiple pilot programs and new concepts; increased earnings more than 10%. WHAT'S NEXT: Complete launch of new Greenwise Markets natural food concept. Things always seem to be looking up for Publix Super Markets. In 2006, net income for the Lakeland, Fla.-based chain rose almost 11% to reach $1.1 billion, on fiscal-year sales



CEO, Publix Super Markets

KEY DEVELOPMENTS: Launched multiple pilot programs and new concepts; increased earnings more than 10%.

WHAT'S NEXT: Complete launch of new Greenwise Markets natural food concept.

Things always seem to be looking up for Publix Super Markets. In 2006, net income for the Lakeland, Fla.-based chain rose almost 11% to reach $1.1 billion, on fiscal-year sales of $21.7 billion. Earnings per share at the company — which are held exclusively by Publix's associates and board members — increased to $1.29, up from $1.15 per share in 2005.

“This is our ninth consecutive quarter with an increase in our stock price. Our associates, the owners of Publix, deserve the credit for this achievement,” Charles Jenkins Jr., the company's chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The statement was characteristically modest for Jenkins, who declined to comment for this profile. But it's clear that during his six-year tenure as CEO, he's helped lead the employee-owned company toward ongoing innovation and growth during a period of rapid and often difficult change for food retailers.

“It's a very different environment these days, and I think most retailers would agree: Traditional grocers are not our only competition,” Maria Brous, director of media and community relations for Publix, told SN. “Health and natural food stores, traditional grocery stores, club stores and restaurants have become competitive for us as well. We're all vying for that same share of stomach.”

For Publix, staying competitive in this market has meant trying a slew of new ideas. In April, the company opened a new store in Lake Mary, Fla., featuring a 4,500-square-foot restaurant area with multiple venues offering selections ranging from Asian specialties and Italian creations to comfort foods and slow-roasted meats.

“Lake Mary allowed us to really try these different venues and bring restaurant-quality food underneath the banner of Publix, and say, ‘We're going to make an impact, and we're going to make this convenient for our customers,’” Brous said. Shoppers looking for a quick meal to bring home for their families can easily find the options to satisfy several different palates, she added.

A separate effort geared toward busy shoppers looking for quality food is under way at the company's Apron's cooking schools. This spring, Publix was one of three Southeastern retailers to announce that it would begin offering meal-assembly sessions at select locations. The company is trying out a pilot of Publix's Apron's Make Ahead Meals in a Jacksonville location, and will soon be opening a branded stand-alone meal-assembly concept near a Publix store in Lithia, Fla.

In March, Publix launched a proprietary shelf-labeling program to make it easier for shoppers to find foods that fit specific nutritional profiles. Brous explained that while shoppers in general have become more health-conscious and increasingly savvy about the nutritional content of the foods they eat, they aren't always looking for the same things.

“Some people may be looking for low calorie, others may be looking for low cholesterol or low carb or more fiber,” she said. “So what we've done with our nutrition information program is make it easy for customers to read that information. We didn't want to over-inundate our customers, but we did want to be responsive to consumers and what they're looking for.”

Perhaps the greatest recent evidence of the company's willingness to take risks in an effort to exceed the competition is Publix Greenwise Markets. The first location of the new natural and organic concept is set to open early this fall in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., followed by other Florida locations already under construction or renovation in Boca Raton, Vero Beach, Tampa, Naples and Coral Springs. The confidence behind the six-store rollout is on par with Supervalu's aggressive launch of its Sunflower Markets last year, and the stores will make Publix one of a tiny handful of supermarket chains looking to capitalize on the growing natural and organic foods category with a dedicated store format.

“It really comes down to the effort we're making to ensure that our customers have choices that fit their lifestyles,” said Brous.



CEO, Wegmans Food Markets

KEY DEVELOPMENTS: Named one of the most ethical companies in the world by Ethisphere Magazine, which covers the correlation between ethics and profit.

WHAT'S NEXT: Expanding an Internet-based pilot project with key suppliers to make sales calls more valuable.

Danny Wegman might not know everything, but he makes sure his company does.

This year, Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y., was recognized by numerous organizations for achievements ranging from being a great place to work to being technologically savvy.

“Most retailers, when they are really good at something, they tend be stereotypically good at that one thing,” said Neil Stern, senior partner with McMillan Doolittle, a Chicago-based retail consulting firm. “That's not the case at Wegmans.”

There are many different skill sets a company needs, he said. “What's interesting about Wegmans is that they can excel in many different areas, and the only way you can do that is by cultivating people and empowering people with diverse skill sets.”

That's where the company's chief executive officer comes in, Stern said. “Danny Wegman clearly has a passion for product and merchandising, but allows other initiatives and skills to be cultivated.”

Where a lot of companies might have a leader that came out of operations, for example, and steered the company to be skilled in that one area, Wegmans is different, Stern said.

“I'm in supermarkets all over the country and all over the world, and from my perspective, there is still nobody better than Wegmans in merchandise quality and customer service,” said former Wegmans employee, now consultant, Terry Roberts.

Roberts is president of Merchandising By Design, a Carrollton, Texas-based consulting firm. She was a Wegmans employee for 12 years, and she still shops at the store when visiting family in Rochester.

“At the time I was working there, Danny Wegman specifically truly valued people and believed if you have good people in the right positions, they can do extraordinary things,” Roberts said.

“Wegmans sets the standards for all other U.S. retailers — in technological advances, in supply chain partnerships, in inter-industry relations and in having the most exciting store with the most enjoyable experience,” said Jo Anne Sharlach, president and CEO of the consultancy Singley Associates, Washington.

For example, the company added online cooking demos to its website this year. Anyone visiting the site can see the company's manager of fresh meal solutions, Nella Neeck, and the company's executive chef, Russell Ferguson, prepare meals step-by-step.

Alongside Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, and Smucker's, Orrville, Ohio, Wegmans began a pilot for “The New Generation Sales Call” initiative this year so that the suppliers can share metrics on supply chain practices through an Internet portal, with the goal being to make sales calls more valuable.

In a keynote address at the Food Marketing Institute's Distribution/Supply Chain Conference this year, Wegman said of the pilot, “We're able to change plans and be flexible with suppliers. We want suppliers to act the same way.”

In video, the company decided to close its rental departments and replace them with DVD rental kiosks from Redbox, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., by October.

With each of these diverse and forward-moving initiatives, the underlying theme is customer service, Stern said.

“The company has varying business phil-osophies, depending on the department, but what is intertwined in a strong way is their people and their customer service.”

The associates may even come before the customers in the case of Wegmans, which has been on Fortune magazine's “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the past 10 years.

“Associates need to be No. 1, and they will take care of the customers,” Stern said. “Companies who show up on lists of the best places to work often show up on lists of the best places to shop.”

Wegmans was recently named one of the world's most ethical companies by Ethisphere Magazine, a publication covering the correlation between ethics and profit. “We are so grateful to be included on this list, because it recognizes the importance of values,” Wegman said. “Caring, respect, empowerment, high standards and making a difference in the community are values that we try to live every day at Wegmans.”

In April, the chain was recognized at the 2007 Food Network Awards, hosted by Emeril Lagasse. Wegmans was given the “Super Market” award for being “a grocery chain that has changed the way we shop.”



Chairman and CEO, H.E. Butt Grocery Co.

KEY DEVELOPMENTS: Opened first unit of Mi Tienda, a Hispanic format, and continued expansion of H-E-B Plus! stores.

WHAT'S NEXT: Continuing to open Plus! stores to blunt the growth of Wal-Mart Supercenters.

Charles C. Butt, chairman and chief executive officer of H.E. Butt Grocery Co., San Antonio, is trying to reach a broader mix of customers as he tries to expand his chain's demographic appeal.

Having introduced the H-E-B Plus! format in 2005 — a heavier mix of general merchandise alongside food — the company launched its new Hispanic format, Mi Tienda, late last year.

“Like all retailers, we continue to search for that perfect balance between investment in facilities and inventory, and what is right for the customer,” Butt told SN in a written statement.

H-E-B plans to pursue expansion within the confines of Texas and Mexico, where it already operates, Butt said, “because both have significant areas in which we can continue to grow.”

H-E-B operates 302 stores, including 275 in Texas and 27 in Mexico.

A large portion of its domestic growth is likely to come in the Houston area, according to Drayton McLane, chairman and CEO of the McLane Group, Temple, Texas. “That's where a large population growth is expected,” he said, “and it's also more contiguous with the rest of H-E-B's operations in southern Texas, more so than farther north in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”

H-E-B will continue to expand in the Dallas area but with its upscale Central Market format. H-E-B opened its eighth Central Market in the Dallas suburb of Southlake during the past year; the chain operates seven other Central Markets: three more in the Dallas area, one in San Antonio, one in Houston and two in Austin.

Several of H-E-B's new projects this year were in the Houston area, Butt noted, including the Mi Tienda unit, two of the eight Plus! stores that opened and a new central kitchen to supply the in-store restaurants — Cafe on the Run — the chain operates at seven Houston stores and one Austin location.

The Mi Tienda (Spanish for “my store”) is located in Pasadena, Texas, a heavily Hispanic community 12 miles south of Houston.

Almost nine months after the store opened, H-E-B isn't saying whether it will open additional Mi Tienda locations. “That first store is off to a good start,” Butt said, without elaboration.

In designing Mi Tienda, H-E-B said it studied operations in Mexico and Central America. Among the store's unique features are a produce department where consumers can watch employees prepare merchandise for the sales floor; a 42-foot full-service meat counter; a Mexican-style bakery; and two sit-down dining areas, with one inside (La Cocina) and one outside (El Patio), both featuring fresh prepared foods made on-site.

Adding to the Spanish ambience, live bands serenade diners at El Patio.

“You wouldn't know that store was owned by H-E-B,” McLane pointed out. “None of the brands are from traditional American companies. They're from Mexico and Central America, and those are the products you see merchandised throughout the store.

“I believe H-E-B will learn from that first Mi Tienda location and move on. They have their stores in Mexico to learn from, so they understand the culture and what shopping is all about for Hispanic customers. And they have contacts established with the suppliers there.”

Butt said H-E-B opened six more Plus! stores in its core division in San Antonio and two more in the Houston area for a total of 13 in operation. The new stores run approximately 125,000 square feet — in between the three Plus! stores of 109,000 square feet and two of 177,000 square feet — as H-E-B tries to determine the ideal size and product mix.

“We're continuing to refine the format as we develop skills and expertise in general merchandise,” Butt said.

McLane called Charles Butt “a visionary” whose stores have managed to outlast all comers over the years, “and now they're taking on Wal-Mart with a vengeance with an aggressive slate of large-store openings.”

The first group of Plus! stores “has experienced growth in total basket size and average item price as our general merchandise sales grow,” Butt said.

“We're proud of our general merchandise leadership and the rapid learning curve in which they are engaging. A number of talented drug and general merchandise professionals from many other retailers have joined us and added significantly to our experience base and skills set.”

H-E-B is also actively involved in tailoring its U.S. stores to various neighborhoods, Butt indicated — not by removing any departments, “but by eliminating some square footage we thought was excessive in various parts of the store.”

Of the four new stores in Mexico, two were in new cities, Leon and Torreon.



CEO, Giant Eagle

KEY DEVELOPMENTS: Opening of Express format, acquisition of 13 Tops stores.

WHAT'S NEXT: Expansion of new formats.

David Shapira, whose family helped found Giant Eagle in 1931, continues to make the kind of innovative moves that have enabled the chain to dominate its home market of Pittsburgh and its adopted market of Cleveland.

“We have been very impressed with David's ability to take risks and differentiate, which ultimately makes Giant Eagle a stronger competitor,” said Neil Stern, senior partner, McMillan Doolittle, Chicago, in an email communication.

Ted Taft, managing director, Meridian Consulting, Westport, Conn., observed that manufacturers are attracted to Shapira's penchant for innovation at Giant Eagle. “If you're trying to push the envelope and do something new, they're a good place to go,” he said.

One mark of innovation has been Shapira's willingness to try different formats. The latest example is the Giant Eagle Express, a 14,000-square-foot format that features a large prepared foods cafe to go along with a small but adequate grocery selection; a full pharmacy with drive-through window; and 16 fuel pumps. The first Express store opened in May near Pittsburgh, and last month Giant Eagle was reportedly considering a second site.

The Express Format follows the opening last year of two new upscale destination stores called Market District and the first GetGo Superette, a 5,000-square-foot expanded version of Giant Eagle's GetGo fuel and convenience store concept. All told, Giant Eagle operates about 216 stores, 138 corporate and 78 franchised, as well as more than 100 GetGo convenience stores.

“They are attacking the market through segmentation of formats through size [Express] and segmentation [Market District],” said Stern. “It is an acknowledgement that in a mature market, one of the ways to grow is to differentiate. This makes sense but certainly adds complexity to operations.”

Taft sees the Express format as an alternative for shoppers who just want to buy a few items for dinner. “There's not one killer format to be successful,” he said. “You need a portfolio of things.”

Bill Bishop, president of Willard Bishop, Barrington, Ill., wonders how effective stores like Giant Eagle's Express format and Tesco's similar concept (opening in the western U.S. later this year) will be at changing their prepared foods menu so that shoppers will keep coming back. But he admires Shapira's willingness to try. “His leadership has been extremely impressive,” said Bishop.

Last fall, Giant Eagle expanded its market-leading 93-store presence in northeastern Ohio with the acquisition of 13 Tops locations from Ahold USA that were converted to corporate stores. “Giant Eagle won [the Cleveland market] by a huge margin,” said Chuck Cerankosky, an equity analyst for FTN Midwest Research, Cleveland. “Tops was woefully outmanned by [Giant Eagle's] superior perishables and marketing.”

Shapira continues to get high marks for Giant Eagle's fuelperks! program, which offers a 10-cent discount on each gallon of gas purchased at the chain's GetGo gas stations for every $50 spent with the chain's Advantage loyalty card. “Their gas rewards program is one of the best in the U.S.,” said Bishop.

Giant Eagle has also gained attention in the past few years for rolling back prices on large blocks of products, primarily to blunt the impact of Wal-Mart Supercenters. “They're working hard to be truly competitive, with stronger prices and, on the price-value front, with gas rewards,” noted Bishop.

Bishop also commended Shapira for recruiting executive talent from outside the grocery business to complement homegrown talent.

Giant Eagle has received recognition from both inside and outside the industry. In March, it received an Energy Star Sustained Excellence award for energy efficiency from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Last fall, the chain received SN's second annual Whole Health Enterprise Award for its leadership in nutrition education and environmental programs. In January 2006, it was presented with SN's Technology Excellence Award in the chain category.



Co-Chairman and CEO, Meijer Inc.

KEY DEVELOPMENTS: Hired a new president; invested in new stores and operations.

WHAT'S NEXT: Staying on growth pace in Midwest to counter Wal-Mart's supercenter penetration.

Hank Meijer presides over a venerable Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Midwest discount retailing operation that does an estimated $13 billion to $14 billion a year in sales.

The company was one of the first to open a supercenter in 1962, with Meijer Thrifty Acres. Forty-five years after that launch, Hank Meijer, the grandson of founder Hendrik Meijer, and son of Fred Meijer, finds himself in charge of preserving the family's business legacy, which began over 70 years ago.

Last year a new president, Mark Murray, an outsider in the retail field, was appointed to replace former president Larry Zigerelli, who resigned in 2005 after less than a year on the job. Meijer then dropped the co-chief executive officer title he had shared with longtime Meijer executive Paul Boyer to become the CEO, while remaining co-chairman with his brother Doug.

“Carrying the tradition and culture of a family business is virtually impossible to lay off to a new person,” said one industry observer. “Now teamed with a new outside executive with proven talent and Meijer's culture and values as well as ownership is the best of both worlds.”

Meijer faces a daunting challenge, having seen Wal-Mart invade the stronghold the retailer once held in the Midwest — Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

“They are really under a lot of pressure in a lot of small towns in Michigan, and Wal-Mart is building [mostly supercenters] across the street from them in these little towns,” said David Livingston, principal, DJL Research, Pewaukee, Wis.

The observer explained, “For a very long time, they didn't need to think about competition as a consequence of a paternalistic approach to a family company. They got flabby, and Wal-Mart represents a wake-up call.”

Meijer, who is an English major graduate from the University of Michigan and is known for his literary and historical interests, is taking action with initiatives designed to build on Meijer's “Higher Standards, Lower Prices” proposition and strengthen its position as the region's preferred mass market retailer.

Investments are being made in new and remodeled stores that are designed around enhanced shopping with solution merchandising. Stores, built just over the 200,000-square-feet size, feature lower gondolas and simple signage. Assortments are geared to the local markets.

Over the past year, Meijer either launched or moved ahead on a number of initiatives. Highlights include: a hybrid pricing program, “Price Drop,” which offers lower prices every day on about 5,000 items; more walk-in CareClinics; a new Meijer Organics private label with 200 food items; a rollout of checkout video screens; and marketing technology to better deliver individualized promotional offers to Meijer customers. In addition, Meijer is an environmental leader. The retailer continued to expand its alternative E85 biodiesel fuel offering at select Meijer filling stations in Michigan. Earlier this year, it introduced a new envir-onmental prototype store in Allen Park, Mich., that is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.

The company is currently conducting reviews of its 4,000 department mangers and has asked them to reapply for their jobs. The company said it expected a minimal number of layoffs as it restructures work responsibilities at its nearly 180 stores in an effort to become more competitive and to make sure the right personnel are in place to handle more sophisticated operations, according to local newspaper reports.

Meijer is committed to its home state of Michigan and has made significant investment of nearly half a billion dollars in the economy-challenged state over the last three years, where 50% of its store base is located.

Plans are to continue to grow the store base at the rate of 5 to 10 stores per year in its Midwest markets, with particular focus on Chicago, Louisville, Ky., and Lexington, Ky. Meijer was recently quoted by the trade press as saying that with the right mix of products, stores can be built closer together, as the main competition has demonstrated. The company will continue to seek more opportunities within its existing footprint, he added.



Acting CEO, Ahold

KEY DEVELOPMENTS: Took over as acting CEO just as Ahold sold U.S. Foodservice for $7.1 billion.

WHAT'S NEXT: Boosting performance at the U.S. supermarket operations.

Perhaps it is appropriate that John Rishton joined Ahold after a decade at British Airways — after all, the multinational retailer's future has been up in the air for quite some time.

Rishton, who took over as acting chief executive officer of Amsterdam-based Ahold on July 1, will attempt to steer the company to a smooth landing after a turbulent recovery process that saw the company jettison several of its operations in the wake of its 2003 financial scandal.

Ahold just this month completed the divestiture of U.S. Foodservice, the Columbia, Md.-based food-service distributor that had been at the heart of the chain's financial woes after Ahold found that the division had improperly recorded vendor allowances to the tune of nearly $1 billion over a three-year span.

The $7.1 billion windfall Ahold received from the sale of that division may help ease shareholder pressures to split or sell the company, analysts said. Last year two private equity firms that had amassed a stake in Ahold were pushing for the company to split itself into U.S. and European divisions, while at about the same time the European press was reporting that Ahold and Brussels-based Delhaize were having talks about a possible merger.

Rishton joined Ahold as chief financial officer in January 2006. He had spent the preceding four years as CFO of British Airways, a company he first joined in 1994 as a financial controller working in the United States.

This month he added the responsibilities of former CEO Anders Moberg, who had guided Ahold through the first four years of its recovery from the scandal after the ouster of the preceding CEO, Cees van der Hoeven.

Analysts believe Rishton may be a contender for the permanent CEO post at Ahold. In the meantime, they say he may apply some cold calculus to the operations in an effort to wring out more efficiencies. That could have an impact on the price-cutting initiatives currently taking place at Ahold's Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover chains in the Northeastern U.S., which some analysts have said may be accelerated with Rishton at the helm.

“I expect him to run the business with a mix of strict financial discipline and what is really needed to bring U.S. retail to former performance levels,” said Patrick Roquas, an analyst with Rabobank, Amsterdam.

Roquas said he believes Rishton will pay close attention to capital expenditures, working capital and underperforming stores, while also focusing on what he said are the keys to reversing sales erosion at Giant-Landover and Stop & Shop: price investment, innovation and add-on acquisitions.

Although Roquas said Rishton has not yet proven himself to be “visionary,” he said the acting CEO is “an extremely smart guy with the right balance of financial and entrepreneurial skills” and also is a “very clear communicator.”

Last year Rishton, along with the current head of U.S. operations, Richard Benjamin, served on Ahold's strategic review team that crafted the recovery plan for the U.S. chains. Buffalo-based Tops, which had been operating under the auspices of Ahold's best-performing U.S. banner, Giant-Carlisle, was put up for sale, and the program of price cuts, quality improvements and reductions in product offerings that had been successful in turning around Albert Heijn, Ahold's flagship chain in the Netherlands, were adapted to Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover. Dick Boer, the head of Ahold's European businesses, who is credited with engineering the resurgence of Albert Heijn, is also considered a contender for the permanent CEO spot at Ahold.

Rishton's financial background might indicate a predisposition to deal-making, some analysts have suggested.

“It's possibly he might be more amenable to any sort of financial engineering,” said Richard Perks, an analyst with Mintel International, London.

Perks said he questions whether someone with a financial background has the right mind-set to lead a retail operation, however.

“On the whole, accountants don't make good retailers,” he said. “There are some very good exceptions, but it always sounds warning bells to me. There's a mind-set that goes with being an accountant and keeping control of figures, and it isn't necessarily the right one to have when you are running a retailer.”



President and CEO, Winn-Dixie Stores

KEY DEVELOPMENTS: Taking Winn-Dixie out of bankruptcy.

WHAT'S NEXT: Renovating 75 stores, raising Winn-Dixie's profile.

Peter Lynch doesn't ask for miracles, just for believers.

His appeals to store employees, and in turn, their efforts to win back shoppers, helped Winn-Dixie Stores survive a round in bankruptcy court. Now, with money again flowing to stores for renovations and product upgrades, the charismatic chief executive officer has Winn-Dixie poised for a comeback many observers pegged as unlikely a few years ago.

Co-workers describe Lynch as a hands-on motivator who succeeds by developing a simple trust with employees and shoppers.

“Peter's talent to lead by example is, in my opinion, unparalleled in the industry,” Frank Eckstein, Winn-Dixie's senior vice president, retail operations, told SN. “He is at his very best when he is walking a store, seeing and hearing firsthand what works and what doesn't. Our associates and our customers have developed a deep trust in him that had been lacking. His ability to build that trust back was instrumental to our turnaround and it is critical to our continued success.”

Lynch arrived at Winn-Dixie shortly before it sought protection from creditors through Chapter 11 in February 2005. Previously, Lynch was a veteran of American Stores and its successor, Albertsons. Among his accomplishments there was reviving American's Acme division in Philadelphia, which, according to Lynch, suffered some of the same issues with employee motivation and customer acceptance as did Winn-Dixie.

“His background getting morale up at Acme, was a good fit for Winn-Dixie,” Andrew Wolf, analyst BB&T Capital Markets, Richmond, Va., told SN. “They needed an operations focus, not a strategic focus CEO. They needed somebody who could know what the customers want on the store level and translate that to the rank-and-file. He's a good fit for what ails Winn-Dixie. It doesn't guarantee them success, but his strengths are a good fit for Winn-Dixie's weaknesses.”

According to Dave Henry, Winn-Dixie's senior vice president of marketing, Lynch struck the right note in communicating Winn-Dixie's brand message, “Getting Better All the Time.” “Peter tells you to keep it simple and execute like crazy. And that's exactly how he operates,” Henry told SN. “When Peter recognized that the Winn-Dixie brand was badly tarnished, he never attempted to convince our customers that everything was — or suddenly would be — fixed. Rather, he made a simple, sincere promise that our focus would remain on continuously improving every area of our company.”

Appointing some 55,000 employees as “brand ambassadors,” helped carry the message to shoppers, many of who are returning to Winn-Dixie for the first time in years.

“Almost overnight, ‘Getting better all the time’ became their rallying cry and the symbol of a company that is committed to earning the trust and loyalty of our customers and business partners every day,” Henry said. “Brand loyalty is essential to a healthy business, and Peter is the quintessential brand champion.”

Since exiting Chapter 11 late last year, Lynch is adding some strategic muscle — not to mention capital expenditures — to grow behind Winn-Dixie's new positioning. The company plans to complete 75 store renovations in the next 12 months, while upgrading its private-label offerings, neighborhood marketing efforts and overall merchandising panache, moves intended to enhance store sales volumes as well as their profile in the minds of shoppers.

“Peter's basic philosophy can be summed up in two words: Leaders lead,” said Eckstein. “That philosophy begins at the top and has spread throughout our entire organization, largely because he believes in it so strongly. He encourages and challenges all of our associates, at every level, to act upon that philosophy every single day.”