Burd, one of the longest-tenured CEOs in food retailing, will have spent 20 years in the post when he steps down at the company’s annual meeting on May 14. He is also retiring as director. He had relinquished his president post in 2012.
Safeway said its board of directors will begin a search for a successor, and will consider both internal and external candidates for the job. It also said Burd will help with the search and will continue to assist the company after he transitions out of his leadership posts.
“I feel this is the right time to move forward with a transition plan,” said Burd in a prepared release. “The company is gaining market share with each passing quarter. We have developed the most sophisticated digital marketing platform in retail, we are implementing the most comprehensive and personalized fuel loyalty program, and we will be rolling out a wellness initiative that has the potential to transform the company.
“While I still have the high level of energy and enthusiasm I brought to the company 20 years ago," he added, “I need more personal time and, given my extensive work in health care, I want to pursue that interest further.”
Read more: Burd's Role at Safeway Evolves
Safeway cited among Burd’s achievements in his two decades at the helm:
• Establishing a “culture of thrift and capital discipline.”
• Developing the "Lifestyle" store format.
• Forming a prepaid payment network — Blackhawk — that has become one of the largest distributors of gift cards in the world.
Read more: Burd Apologizes to Clinton, Pelosi
He also accelerated Safeway’s efforts in charitable giving and sustainability, the company said, and led Safeway to become “one of the nation’s most recognized leaders in health care” through its innovative insurance and wellness programs.
“Steve has been an iconic leader and is one of the industry's most innovative CEOs,’ said Gary Rogers, the company’s lead independent director. “He will be very difficult to replace. As he moves to the next phase of his career, we hope to continue to leverage his input and assistance as the company moves ahead with its exciting new programs.”