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Kroger Houston division supermarket.jpg The Kroger Co.
Kroger’s Houston division operates over 100 supermarkets in greater Houston, southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana.

Kroger taps Laura Gump as Houston division president

Grocery veteran takes reins from new King Soopers chief Joe Kelley

Laura Gump has been promoted to president of the Houston division at The Kroger Co.

Formerly the division’s vice president of merchandising, Gump takes over from Joe Kelley, who early last month became president of the Kings Soopers division with the retirement of Steve Burnham. Kelley had served as Houston division president since May 2019.

Kroger’s Houston division has more than 18,000 employees and operates over 100 supermarkets, as well as in-store pharmacies and on-site fuel centers, in greater Houston, southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana.

Laura Gump-Kroger Houston.jpeg“I am thrilled to take on the role of division president and bring a new perspective to how we will provide an exceptional shopping experience for our customers, an engaged and uplifting culture for our associates, and support to the communities we serve,” Gump (left) said in a statement. “My goal is to continue expanding Kroger’s reach and impact and diversify our ever-growing selection of fresh food to fulfill our promise of being ‘Fresh for Everyone’.”

A 30-year grocery retail veteran, Gump joined Kroger in August 2020 as vice president of merchandising for the Houston division from The Home Depot, where she served as vice president of store operations for just over a year-and-a-half.

Prior to that, she spent more than 29 years at H-E-B, including over 11 years as group vice president of store operations. She began her career at the Texas grocer in 1989 managing stores before being promoted to district manager, regional vice president and then to group vice president in 2007.

Cincinnati-based Kroger noted that Gump currently serves as the president of Women's Edge, a group dedicated to the promotion and mentorship of women in leadership at the company.

“Laura has tremendous experience in the grocery and retail industries,” commented Valerie Jabbar, senior vice president of retail operations for Kroger. “Her ability to build high-performing teams will ensure our Houston division continues to deliver the freshest foods and a friendly and welcoming experience for our customers, whether shopping in-store or online.”

Joe Kelley-King Soopers-Kroger Houston.jpgKelley (left) started as King Soopers president on Nov. 6. The grocery industry veteran, who joined Kroger in early 2019 as vice president on special assignment before leading the Houston division, has nearly two decades of food retail experience, spanning sales, marketing, merchandising, category management, supply chain and operations and regional, national and international levels. 

In the special assignment vice president role at Kroger, Kelley focused on the retailer’s efforts to improve the customer experience. Before coming to Kroger, he was principal of Kelley Business Advisors LLC, a business consultancy for grocery retailers. That followed posts as a vice president at Albertsons Cos.’ Shaw’s and Star Market banners, New England president for Stop & Shop, chairman and CEO of Marsh Supermarkets, and executive vice president at Price Chopper Supermarkets and Bozzuto’s.

Kroger’s Harris Teeter division also is slated to undergo a leadership transition. Last month, the company announced that Tammy DeBoer, senior vice president of merchandising, operations and marketing, will succeed retiring Harris Teeter President Rod Antolock effective Feb. 1. The chain operates about 260 stores in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

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