CINCINNATI — Kroger Co.  here on Thursday said it has named Michael L. Ellis president and chief operating officer, effective Jan. 1, succeeding W. Rodney McMullen.
In September, Kroger had announced that its chief executive officer, David B. Dillon , would retire, and that McMullen would succeed him. Dillon will remain chairman through Dec. 31, 2014.
Ellis, 55, has been in his current role as senior vice president of retail divisions since 2012, where he leads five retail supermarket divisions, plus Kroger's jewelry and convenience store businesses. Ellis previously was president of Portland, Ore.-based Fred Meyer — the company’s largest operating division by revenue — for six years.
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“Mike’s broad-based experience on both the food and general merchandise sides of our business make him a great fit for this role,” Dillon said in a statement. “Mike is a team builder who will be a great partner with our entire leadership team. We look forward to his dynamic leadership of Kroger’s diverse operations.”
“Mike has been a key player in our strategic efforts for many years, including the expansion of Fred Meyer’s general merchandising expertise throughout the company and, more recently, our accelerated growth plan,” McMullen added. “His extensive knowledge spans our multiple formats and unique approaches to merchandising. Mike’s insistence on operational excellence and his willingness to push boundaries to improve the customer experience will ensure Kroger continues to grow and deliver shareholder value.”
Read more: Dillon to Retire as Kroger CEO 
Ellis is a 38-year Kroger veteran. He joined Fred Meyer in 1975 as a parcel clerk at age 16, and went on to serve in a series of operations and merchandising leadership positions in stores, division management and as a corporate officer. He was vice president of Fred Meyer's food group before joining Kroger as a senior officer in 2004. He returned to lead Fred Meyer as president in 2006. Ellis played an influential role in the growth of the company’s Marketplace store format, Kroger said.
“I am excited and honored for the opportunity to work with the tremendous leadership team at Kroger,” Ellis said. “I am committed to helping them deliver on Kroger’s high-velocity growth plan for our customers, associates and shareholders.”
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