ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Robert P. “Bob” Ingle, who founded Ingles Markets in 1965 and has been the only chief executive officer in company history, died Sunday at age 77, Ingles said Monday.
The board of directors of Ingles has appointed Ingle’s son, Robert P. “Bobby” Ingle II, to succeed his father as CEO. Ingle II has been chairman of the board of the company since succeeding his father in that role in 2004.
The elder Ingle, whose father ran a small grocery store, founded the chain after reportedly being turned down for a managerial role at Colonial Stores, his employer at the time. Using a $20,000 loan from supplier Merchants Distributors Inc., Ingle opened a 5,000-square-foot store in Asheville. He added two locations and soon was making enough money to purchase six Colonial stores in western North Carolina — including the one that wouldn’t promote him, Ingle told SN in 1978.
Ingles today operates 203 supermarkets in six Southeast states, mainly in small towns where Ingles also owns the land and buildings where the stores operate. Service arrangements were pending.