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Masters of Reinvention: Executives to Watch 2011

Executives take on transformative roles at companies in transition: Larry Appel, Philip Clarke, Janel Haugarth, Sam Martin, Walter Robb

From attorney to operations specialist, or from wholesaler to retailer — this year's “Executives to Watch” list includes industry leaders who are transforming their roles at their respective companies.

Larry Appel, the new senior vice president of retail operations at Winn-Dixie Stores, has a background in corporate law but is stepping into the top operations post at the struggling retailer. His mission is challenging, given the economic and competitive environment in the Southeast. (See Winn Dixie's Outsider Perspective.)

Philip Clarke is taking the helm at global retailer Tesco as the company's U.S. outpost, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, limps along, bleeding hundreds of million of dollars in losses. Clarke, formerly the chief information officer, will seek to fill the shoes of the legendary Terry Leahy — who greatly expanded Tesco's global footprint — while seeking to plot a course to profitability for Fresh & Easy. (See Determining Fate of Fresh & Easy.)

At Supervalu, Janel Haugarth, with more than 30 years at the company, will seek to translate her success running the supply-chain services business into the retail division as she takes over the merchandising role for the entire company. As executive vice president of merchandising and logistics, she will be an important component of the company's efforts to unify its merchandising to maximize vendor support while at the same time retaining local flavor among Supervalu's disparate retail operations. (See Leveraging Supervalu's Scale.)

Sam Martin took over as president and chief executive officer of A&P when the company still appeared as though it might avoid bankruptcy — but less than six months into his job, the debt-laden retailer did indeed file Chapter 11. The result will be that Martin will probably end up with a much smaller network of stores to transform, and offers the possibility for him to re-create the chain around a viable base. (See Tough Decisions at A&P.)

Sharing the spotlight — and the CEO title — with the idiosyncratic John Mackey, puts Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, in an interesting position. In the first six months in the role, the former farmer and consultant has already become more visible, although management-by-committee remains the modus operandi for the executives at one of the industry's fastest-growing companies. (See Sharing Whole Foods' Spotlight.)