LOS ANGELES — The elevation of Bob Ling to serve as president of Unified Grocers  here is aimed at keeping management in closer touch with retailers in the member-owned cooperative, Al Plamann, chief executive officer, told SN.
Plamann held both titles until last week, when Ling moved up from the post of vice president, legal counsel, and secretary to become president.
“We have 500 members now located up and down the West Coast, and I haven't been able to get close to some members as often as I should have,” Plamann explained.
“So I thought we should have a high-level individual who could focus more on the members, their needs and new business opportunities while I concentrate more on strategic needs. It's something we probably should have considered doing two or three years ago.”
Ling has been general counsel for Unified and its predecessor company, Certified Grocers of California, since 1996.
Plamann said the company will probably hire an outside law firm to serve as its corporate counsel.
TIMES JOINS UNIFIED
Separately, Unified said last week that Times Supermarkets, Honolulu, is switching suppliers and will begin buying groceries next month from Unified.
Times, which operates 20 stores in Hawaii and is merging with another five-store operator there, had been buying from C&S Wholesale Grocers, Keene, N.H., the No. 1 wholesaler in Hawaii.
“We believe that Unified's wide selection of products and efficient distribution systems will help us become more competitive in the months and years ahead,” said Bob Stout, president of Times Supermarkets, in a prepared statement.
Times operates 17 supermarkets under the Times Supermarkets banner, two stores under the Fujioka's Wine Times banner and one store under the Shima's Supermarket banner.
Last month Times' parent company, PAQ, Stockton, Calif., acquired 5 Big Save Value Centers on Kauai, which are expected to become “part of Times Supermarket family” on July 25, Unified said.