Supervalu on Tuesday announced that veteran wholesale executive James Weidenheimer has been named to the newly created position of EVP, corporate development and chief innovation officer.
Weidenheimer, who retired from C&S Wholesale Grocers after 16 years in January, will report to Supervalu's newly named president and CEO, Mark Gross, who is also a C&S veteran. Weidenheimer is expected to start in his new role by April 25.
Weidenheimer will work closely with the company's wholesale and retail teams to develop and execute on market opportunities, including new business development, cross-channel merchandising and promotions, and integration of logistical/delivery solutions for key customers, Supervalu said.
“I’m thrilled that Jim will be joining Supervalu and serving on our executive leadership team,” Gross said in a release. “Jim and I have worked together in different capacities over the past 20 years. Jim has a wealth of industry knowledge and extensive expertise in procurement, distribution and logistics and is able to draw on all this experience when considering how to best structure new offerings for a customer. I’m confident that he’ll bring instant credibility to this role and innovation to our business. We believe there are significant opportunities to grow our business with existing customers and also to add new ones and Jim will be an excellent addition to help us achieve these goals.”
Gross, who succeeded Sam Duncan as CEO earlier this year, is preparing the company to grow behind wholesale and retail divisions as the company prepares to spin off its Save-A-Lot divison to a separate company, sources said.
"I think the company has moved from the necessary and severe cost-cutting mode under Sam Duncan, and now Mark Gross is thinking about growing the business," Chuck Cerankosky, an analyst for North Coast Research, Cleveland, told SN.
Weidenheimer’s background includes serving as SVP of corporate development for C&S from 2008 until his retirement in January. Prior to C&S, Weidenheimer served as VP and CFO for the wholesale division of Richfood Holdings. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas.
Also Tuesday, Supervalu said Bruce Besanko, the company’s EVP and COO, has added the responsibilities of CFO — a position he held from August 2013 to October 2015. In his role as both COO and CFO, Besanko will continue to oversee the Eden Prairie, Minn., company's five regional retail banners, the merchandising, marketing and pharmacy functions, and the finance function, as well as add oversight of Supervalu's human resources function.
Susan Grafton, formerly CFO, will return to the position of SVP of finance and chief accounting officer, reporting to Besanko. Grafton was named CFO in October when Besanko was promoted to COO. She will oversee accounting and certain finance functions. The changes to Besanko’s and Grafton’s roles are effective immediately.
The company also announced the renaming of its Independent Business segment to Wholesale, "as wholesale serves as this segment’s primary function, which is to distribute consumable products to retail stores for final sale," the company said.
Mike Stigers, EVP, wholesale, will continue to lead this renamed segment and will report directly to Gross.
Cerankosky said he didn't feel the name the change was significant beyond being more descriptive of the business than the customer.
"I think Supervalu will continue to offer administrative services to their independent customers."
“I’m very thankful to have a smart, highly-driven team of executives who have helped me quickly assimilate into my role with Supervalu,” said Gross. “I value their contributions and I’m pleased they will be a part of helping me drive the growth of this company going forward.”
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