After approximately six months as CEO under new Save-A-Lot owner Onex Corporation, Eric Claus has departed. Effective April 21, he will be replaced by Kenneth McGrath, the former Irish-born former Lidl executive who was named to president and CEO of the German discounter’s U.S. effort shortly after Lidl announced it would be entering the U.S. in 2013. He left Lidl in mid-2015 to be replaced by former Lidl Irish CEO Brendan Proctor, who still remains at the helm of Lidl’s U.S. operation based in Arlington, VA. The division of the privately-held Schwarz Gruppe is slated to open its first of more than 100 Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S. stores in the next three months.
McGrath, 41, spent most of his adult career at Lidl Ireland beginning in 2001. He left for a brief period to join another Irish retailer, Superquinn, and returned to Lidl in 2009 to head up the discounter’s Irish operations. For the past 22 months he was chief executive of Digicel, a mobile phone network based in Jamaica that operates in 33 markets across the Caribbean, Central America and Oceania regions.
“We are thrilled that Kenneth has chosen to lead Save-A-Lot as we chart a new course for the company after its separation from Supervalu,” said Matthew Ross, chairman of the Save-A-Lot board of directors and managing director at Onex. “Kenneth is a strong executive that brings to Save-A-Lot tremendous experience in hard discount retailing. He is highly capable of building a world-class organization, investing in the company’s capabilities and systems, and returning Save-A-Lot to industry-leading growth by leveraging its unique market position.”
“The opportunity to lead Save-A-Lot at this exciting phase is a real privilege,” McGrath said. “Save-A-Lot has a proud history of delivering exceptional value to its customers throughout the U.S. I am looking forward to working with Save-A-Lot’s dedicated associates and licensees to serve customers in ways that enhance their experience and, in doing so, driving a period of sustained growth for the organization.”
Claus, 60, was named CEO of Save-A-Lot in December 2015 by then owner Supervalu. He continued as chief executive after Supervalu sold the discount chain to Canadian private equity firm, Onex Corporation for $1.37 billion last October. Claus has spent more than 30 years in the grocery industry, most notably with Red Apple Stores in Canada and with A&P as chief executive from 2005 to 2009.
Save-A-Lot operates 1,344 stores in 37 states and the Caribbean – 477 corporately-owned units and 877 which are owned by licensees.