Mother Goose notwithstanding, Robert "Bob" Miller has managed to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
That feat was accomplished after a partnership headed by Cerberus Capital Management, New York, purchased 877 Albertsons stores from Supervalu in March — seven years after the same partnership acquired the underperforming Albertsons stores when the chain was split in 2006.
The deal earlier this year left Miller as chairman and chief executive officer of more than 1,000 stores with a volume estimated to exceed $20 billion. Prior to the acquisition, Albertsons LLC, which remains based in Boise, Idaho, was operating 192 stores with sales estimated at $3.9 billion.
Miller also was named non-executive chairman of Supervalu after Cerberus acquired the largest single stake in the wholesaler in March. Miller said his job at Supervalu will be to act as an advisor. "I’m a grocery man — that’s the only title that counts," he said.
The stores Cerberus acquired from Supervalu encompass Acme Markets in the East; Shaw’s and Star Market in New England; Jewel-Osco in the Midwest; and Albertsons-banner stores in Southern California and the Intermountain West region.
The new owners are expected to operate most of the acquired stores, under Miller’s leadership, for an indeterminate period before deciding to sell some of the banners, industry sources said.
Miller had spent 30 years at the original Albertsons — ultimately serving as executive vice president, retail operations — before leaving in 1991.
When he became CEO of Albertsons LLC in 2006, "he brought the company’s operations back to basics, putting the decision-making close to the customers," an industry source told SN.
With the recombination of the chain and the return of a lot of former employees from the original Albertsons, observers said they expect Miller to make similar moves to help turn the acquired stores around.
"The common strain among all the executives will produce a continuity that would be hard to replicate in the aggregate," Jose L. Tamez, managing partner at Austin-Michael LP, an executive search firm based in Denver, told SN.
"Knowing the old Albertsons model and knowing these executives, there’s little doubt that execution, cost-containment and simplification will prevail — all hallmarks of [the original] Albertsons’ success."
Dick King, executive vice president and managing partner at Encore Associates, San Ramon, Calif. — and the former president and CEO of Albertsons until 1999 — also said he believes the return of so many Albertsons veterans is significant.
"It brings continuity to the organization, with people who know the Albertsons system because they were involved with Albertsons for so many years, and that continuity will foster better execution," King told SN.
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