Veteran supermarket executive Robert G. (Bob) Miller has been appointed to the board of directors for Modesto, Calif.-based The Save Mart Companies.
Miller’s extensive leadership experience includes serving as chief executive officer, board chairman, and most recently chairman emeritus at Albertsons after starting with the company as a 16-year-old bottle sorter.
Miller also has been CEO at Fred Meyer; vice chairman and chief operating officer at Kroger; chairman and CEO at Rite Aid; non-executive chairman at Wild Oats; and non-executive chairman at Supervalu Inc.
Among his accolades are receiving an Honorary Doctorate degree from Portland State University in 1998; the Horatio Alger Award in 2012, given to individuals whose courage and determination allow them to succeed in their field despite significant early life challenges and recognizes their strong commitment to philanthropy; the first Boise State Champion of Commerce Award in 2014; and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by Boise State University in 2018.
Miller said in a statement that he is joining the Save Mart board at a “time when there is so much opportunity in the grocery industry for growth. This company and its people exemplify the hard-working and passionate spirit of running great stores and serving their communities.
Indeed, Shane Sampson, executive chairman of the board, told Supermarket News that Save Mart is evaluating expansion possibilities both in and outside of its current market in the Central California Valley, San Francisco Bay Area, and northern Nevada. Save Mart operates approximately 200 Save Mart, Lucky California, and FoodMaxx stores.
“Our stated strategy has always been to grow our business,” he said. “Bob brings 60 years of experience and an incredible wealth of knowledge around the different things that have gone on, from the economy to growth opportunities. We think that we are poised for growth as we move into the future.”
Sampson added that Save Mart “has the right team and the right growth platform to take advantage of the changing landscape. There will be lots of opportunities in market and in the contiguous market, but it’s not limited to that.”
That includes potentially rolling out more value oriented FoodMaxx stores. “FoodMaxx has performed very well in the Bay Area and Central Valley, and we think we have the right recipe to take that to other markets,” he said.
While Sampson said Save Mart is facing many of the common industry challenges, including inflation, staffing, and supply issues, he noted that the company has a “solid labor force” of 14,000 associates and that its supply chain has been improving over the last year. He added, however, that there is still room for enhancements and “you have to work on it day in and day out.”
Sampson, who led the Kingswood Capital Management team that acquired Save Mart last March, said the operation “is going as good as could be expected. All our leaders are happy with where we are at.”
He emphasized that the company is focusing on fundamentals in a challenging environment, which encompasses “running great stores, taking care of our teammates and taking care of our customers.”
Such activities included having the leadership team visit every store during the holiday season. “There is nothing more important than being in front of your folks,” Sampson said. “We are excited where we are at today and excited about the future.”