Hannaford Bros. Embraces Change

If the future of Hannaford Bros. is uncertain, it is only because it is a company that thrives on its flexibility and on continuous improvement.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — If the future of Hannaford Bros. is uncertain, it is only because it is a company that thrives on its flexibility and on continuous improvement.

During SN's recent visit to the chain's headquarters here, several of the managers interviewed by SN spoke about the importance of accepting change in the organization, whether it is accepting new responsibilities, adopting a new strategy or confronting a new competitor.

"Our culture is one that embraces change," said Gerry Greenleaf, vice president, distribution. "We have a solid foundation, and we keep our associates involved, informed and engaged. Our associates understand the 'whys' of change."

In its 122-year history, Hannaford has morphed from being a dock-front produce wholesaler to being a driving force within Delhaize America, one the country's largest supermarket operators.

"We are a company that doesn't let grass grow under its feet," said Art Ledue, district manager, Hannaford. "We really thrive as an organization at getting better. We always try to find a way to get better at everything."

Change for its own sake doesn't necessarily make the company any better, however -- what has made Hannaford stand out has been its ability to make the right changes at the right time, executives said.

"I've always been impressed with the way the leaders of the company have had the courage to re-engineer the company at the right time," said Mark Doiron, senior vice president, merchandising and distribution. "When Hannaford did the 'Festival' revolution, we were doing fantastic — we had great sales growth, and it was at that time that we re-engineered ourselves to be more consumer-based for the future."