byron allumbaugh

Former Ralphs, FMI chairman Allumbaugh dies at 84

Byron Allumbaugh

A memorial service will be held Wednesday in Newport Beach, Calif. for Byron Allumbaugh, the influential and longtime CEO and chairman of Ralphs Grocery Co. and former Food Marketing Institute chairman.

Allumbaugh, 84, passed away over the weekend, sources said.

He spent 38 years with Ralphs, beginning his career with the Los Angeles-based retailer as a meat manager in 1958. Allumbaugh was named COO in 1971, president in 1973 and chairman and CEO in 1975, retiring as CEO in 1996 and as chairman in 1997.

At Ralphs, Allumbaugh presided over rapid growth helping Ralphs to become Southern California's largest supermarket chain, and helped to pioneer block-ready meat and scanning, among other innovations. He guided the chain through several tumultuous ownership changes as Ralphs passed from Federated Department Stores to Campeau Corp. in a 1988 management-led leveraged buyout, then to Edward J. DeBartolo Corp. in 1993 and a merger with Food 4 Less in 1995. Those companies later were acquired by Kroger Co., which operates the Ralphs brand today.

Allumbaugh was a former FMI chairman, and a president of the Western Association of Food Chains. FMI awarded him its Sidney Rabb award, its highest individual honor, in 1987. Allumbaugh was also named a Horatio Alger Award winner in 1996.

A memorial gathering for friends and family is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach.

This story was updated to provide additional detail of the memorial service.

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