Brian Baer Is Named New President of Safeway’s Eastern Division

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Safeway veteran Brian Baer has been named president of Safeway’s eastern division, effective December 10. He replaces Steve Neibergall who, along with VP-merchandising Rick Stein, VP-finance Glenn Davis and VP-retail operations Henry Bash, has left the big chain.

Baer was most recently president of Dominick’s Finer Foods, the Oak Brook, IL-based division which Safeway is closing on December 28.

As part of the shake-up, Brad Spooner, most recently VP-retail operations, has been named to the new position of VP-merchandising execution. Spooner joined Safeway from Winn Dixie in 2005 and began his career at Randall’s in Texas. Dean Willhite is the retailer’s new VP/retail operations manager. Willhite, who has been with Safeway for more than 30 years beginning in its Vons (southern California) division. Most recently, he was VP-retail operations for the chain’s Denver division. Additionally, Frank Conley, who is currently CFO of Safeway’s Phoenix division, will add CFO responsibilities for the chain’s eastern division.

Safeway’s eastern division, based in Lanham, MD, encompasses 125 stores in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Washington, DC and employs approximately 11,000 associates.

Baer was named acting president of Dominick’s in 2011 and was given the job on a permanent basis in February 2011. He  joined Safeway in 2001 as VP-finance for the Phoenix division (where Neibergall also began his Safeway career) and has also served as group VP-finance planning & analysis. Prior to joining Safeway, he spent more than 12 years with the Marriott Corporation serving in various financial management positions in operations, corporate finance and real estate development. He is a graduate of Penn State.

“Brian’s proven management skills and experience will serve our customer base well in the Eastern division,” said Kelly Griffith, Safeway’s EVP-retail operations.

Neibergall joined Safeway in 1989 as a store manager trainee in Phoenix, he was promoted to store manager in 1990.  Four years later he was selected to centralize the company’s superior service program, then went on to become a district manager in the Phoenix division in 1996.  He also served as VP- retail operations in three Safeway divisions:  Northern California in 2000, Dominick’s in 2002 and Phoenix in 2004.  Promoted to senior VP  for produce and floral in 2005, Neibergall worked out of the corporate office in Pleasanton, CA until his promotion to president of Safeway’s eastern division in June 2007.

Stein began his career at Safeway’s eastern division in 1973. The Maryland native moved to corporate headquarters after Safeway consolidated its merchandising in 2002 to Pleasanton, CA and returned to the eastern division in 2007 to the  VP-merchandising post.

Davis joined Safeway’s eastern division as VP-finance in 1995 after a 10 year stint with the Stop & Shop Companies in New England.

Bash, who was named VP-retail operations for the eastern division in 2005, had more than 30 years of experience with Safeway, primarily in the Seattle division.