Discount grocer Save A Lot has tapped Leon Bergmann, a longtime grocery wholesale executive, to become its next chief executive officer.
St. Louis-based Save A Lot said Wednesday that Bergmann is slated to take the helm as CEO in March. The move comes nearly four months after Save A Lot confirmed the appointment of Craig Herkert as interim chief executive, upon the exit of CEO Kenneth McGrath, and over year after announcing plans to migrate to a wholesale business model.
Bergmann comes to Save A Lot from Harvest Sherwood Food Distributors, where he has served as CEO of the Detroit-based grocery, bakery, deli, meat and seafood wholesaler since July 2018.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead a tremendous brand like Save A Lot and to work closely with the amazing team of retail partners that are so dedicated to delivering quality and value to its customers,” Bergmann said in a statement. “The Save A Lot model is well-positioned to capitalize in industry trends and meet the needs of consumers. I look forward to working with my colleagues at all levels to build on our legacy as the industry’s leading hometown grocer.”
Bergmann (left) brings over 20 years of experience in the grocery and distribution industries. As CEO at Harvest Sherwood, he executed a comprehensive growth strategy for one of the nation’s largest food wholesalers, Save A Lot noted.
Before that, Bergmann served as western region president at Supervalu (now part of United Natural Foods Inc.) for a year, following the company’s acquisition of fellow distributor Unified Grocers, where he served in executive vice president and senior vice president roles in sales, procurement and logistics. Bergmann also was president of independent business and group vice president of independent sales, marketing and merchandising in an earlier stint at Supervalu. Previously, he spent almost six years at C&S Wholesale Grocers, most recently as senior vice president of sales and customer services for the Northeast.
“With more than two decades of industry experience, Leon combines deep industry expertise and a consistent track record of success at leading grocery brands and wholesale businesses that will be invaluable as we execute against our long-term growth strategy,” Save A Lot Chairman Justin Shaw commented. “His proven ability to meet the needs of associates, customers and vendors also makes him an ideal fit to lead the business and its strong network of Retail Partners across the country. We are excited to welcome Leon to the Save A Lot team and look forward to working alongside him and the management team as we pursue the strategic growth opportunities ahead.”
Herkert (left) is slated to stay at Save A Lot over the coming weeks to aid with the leadership transition before Bergmann assumes the CEO post next month. A onetime CEO of former Save A Lot parent Supervalu Inc., Herkert reported on his LinkedIn page that he became interim CEO of Save A Lot in August. A 30-year grocery retail veteran, Herkert also is a former Walmart, Albertsons and American Stores executive.
“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Craig Herkert for his leadership during the six months he served in the role as interim CEO,” Shaw stated, “and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”
In December 2020, Save A Lot unveiled plans to divest more than 300 corporate-operated stores to current and new retail partners and refocus on distribution and support services, including private label, for independent Save A Lot operators. At the time, the company had 14 distribution centers and more than 1,000 stores in 33 states, with the vast majority of the locations licensed by over 200 independent grocers. Save A Lot said it aims to retain 21 corporate-operated stores in St. Louis to serve as testing sites for retail partners. Most recently, the company said it sold 33 stores in metropolitan Orlando to independent grocery startup Ascend Grocery LLC.
Last July, Save A Lot announced a program to remodel a third of its store base in 2021 and upgrade the rest of the stores by 2024. Currently, the company has about 900 stores in 32 states.