Taking Stock

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Wakefern Gains Key Asset With Keptner Hire As SVP-Marketing

Wakefern just hired an all-star. With the announcement that the large Keasbey, NJ grocery co-op has named Erik Keptner as its senior VP-marketing, the already hugely successful wholesaler got a little bit better.

Keptner, who spent his entire career with Ahold USA/Ahold Delhaize USA, is simply one of the brightest young marketing minds in the industry, particularly in the area of consumer-centric shopping behavior. Moreover, he’s an excellent team player whose time spent at store level will be an asset when dealing with the geographic and demographic diversity that face all 50 Wakefern member/owners not to mention the personality nuances of those 50 families.

His talent will certainly improve Wakefern’s marketing presence for its primary brands – ShopRite and PriceRite – particularly as the industry shifts to a more digital focus.

In fact, in his new role at Wakefern, Keptner will oversee digital commerce and analytics, advertising, corporate merchandising, private label and own brand as well as the co-op’s social media and digital advertising divisions and report directly to Wakefern executive VP Chris Lane.

And Lane was instrumental in bringing Keptner aboard which leads to another somewhat apparent deduction: that as potential successor to the great Joe Sheridan as president and COO of Wakefern (no, we’re not predicting Sheridan’s retirement date yet), Lane is helping to create his own team at the company whose member/owners dominate supermarket retailing in the Metro New York and Delaware Valley markets.

If Keptner is the first key hire in a potential “changing of the guard” scenario at the $13 billion co-op, then Wakefern made an excellent choice.

“Erik came up in the grocery business at a pivotal time for the industry, and throughout his career has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to implementing consumer centric marketing and merchandising strategies,” said Lane. “He’s a proven leader, and we are very excited to welcome him to the Wakefern team.”