Donald To Step Down As Albertsons CEO, PepsiCo’s Sankaran To Lead Large Chain; Memo Notes ‘I Am Excited About Our Progress.’

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Albertsons Companies announced today that Vivek Sankaran, CEO PepsiCo Foods North America, has been appointed president and chief executive officer of the Boise, ID-based retailer, effective April 25, 2019.

Jim Donald, currently the company’s president and CEO, will continue as co-chairman of the board, with Leonard Laufer serving as the other co-chairman. The company’s longtime leader Robert Miller has been named chairman emeritus and will continue to serve as a member of the board of directors. “When I joined Albertsons Companies in 2018, I found a company that had a strong decentralized operating model, a fantastic leadership team and incredible potential to be the four-walls and no-walls leader in the grocery industry,” said Donald. “Over the past year, our team made our company’s nearly 2,300 stores even stronger as we sharpened our focus on the intersection of technology and service. I’m looking forward to the continued progress of the company under the seasoned leadership of Vivek. We continue to be well-positioned to serve the evolving needs of today’s customer, where, how and when they choose to shop with us.” Continued Donald, “Vivek brings a rare blend of CPG, retail, manufacturing, logistics, technology, and research and development to Albertsons Companies, all of which are key components to being a successful retailer in an omni channel-driven environment. Moreover, Vivek has the keen understanding that the front line is directly linked to the bottom line, and I’m confident he will inspire and engage our 270,000 associates across our stores, support offices, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers.”

“It is a great privilege to join a company that has such deep roots in American retail,” said Sankaran. “Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randall’s, United Supermarkets, Market Street, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs – all of these banners and more in the Albertsons Companies family of stores have hundreds of years of combined history. Our stores are integral to the lives of millions of customers each week. I’m excited to build on the legacies of past CEOs Bob Miller and Jim Donald who both laid a solid foundation for success, and look forward to working with our associates to realize the opportunities and navigate the challenges in our evolving industry.”

“I’ve known Vivek for many years. He has always impressed me, not only with his exceptional work at Frito-Lay in managing the many facets of a multibillion-dollar food business, but also with his ability to work with and develop people,” said Miller. “I couldn’t be happier to leave Albertsons Companies in Vivek’s hands.”
In an internal memo from Donald (published at the end of this story) detailing his departure, the former Pathmark, Starbucks and Extended Stay CEO, also noted “the industry may think that we’re playing catch up with eCommerce, ‘Drive Up and Go,’ and third-party agreements, but when we look at the whole picture, we’re changing the game for customers in small, simple ways that I’m confident will add up to our being the company that everyone wants to catch up to in the next few years. I am excited about our progress and I look forward to what we’ll accomplish. Our commitment to ‘Making Every Day a Better Day’ for our people, customers, community and company remains our priority.
Sankaran was named CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America in December 2018. Prior to that, he served as the company’s president and chief operating officer, a position he was named to in 2016. Over the last 3 years, he has led Frito Lay to industry-leading growth by remaining focused on innovation, technology and execution. Over his ten-year career at PepsiCo, in addition to leading Frito-Lay, Sankaran also served as the chief commercial officer for PepsiCo North America, Chief Customer Officer of Frito Lay, and as the senior VP-strategy for PepsiCo.
Before joining PepsiCo in 2009, Sankaran was a partner at McKinsey and Company, where he served various Fortune 100 companies, bringing a strong focus on strategy and operations.
Sankaran has an MBA from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in manufacturing from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai.

Below is Donald’s internal memo:

To: Albertsons Companies Associates
From: Jim Donald
Subject: Albertsons Companies Appoints Vivek Sankaran President and CEO

Team,

When I joined Albertsons Companies in March of 2018, there were two paths in front of me waiting to play out: helping to shepherd the integration of a Rite Aid-Albertsons Companies combination into 2019 and beyond, or helping further lead our already-solid company toward the future in both the four wall and no wall environment and tell our story more broadly. Just over a year later, we know which path the company took, and as I took on the role of overseeing the daily operation of our company, I also made finding my successor a high priority. When you look for a successor, you find someone who embraces your vision and then has the capacity to take it to a whole new level. This morning, we announced that Vivek Sankaran has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Albertsons Companies, effective April 25, 2019. With this change, I’m going to take on the role of co-chairman of the board. I’ll be serving alongside co-chairman Len Laufer, who was named to our board of directors last fall, and is a senior managing director and head of transformation and technology for Cerberus Capital Management. Bob Miller, after 58 years in the industry, has been named chairman emeritus and will continue to serve as a member of the board of directors. Vivek was named CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America in December 2018. Prior to that, he served as the company’s president and chief operating officer, a position he was named to in 2016. Over the last 3 years, he has led Frito Lay to industry-leading growth by remaining focused on innovation, technology and execution. Over his ten-year career at PepsiCo, in addition to leading Frito-Lay, Vivek also served as the chief commercial officer for PepsiCo North America, chief customer officer of Frito Lay, and as the senior vice president of strategy for PepsiCo. Before joining PepsiCo in 2009, Vivek was a partner at McKinsey and Company, where he served various Fortune 100 companies bringing a strong focus on strategy and operations. He co-led the firm’s North American purchasing and supply management practice and was on the leadership team of the North American retail practice. Vivek has an MBA from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai. My co-chairman Len Laufer leads Cerberus Technology Solutions, a subsidiary of Cerberus that is focused exclusively on leveraging emerging technology, data, and advanced analytics to drive business transformations. Len and his team of senior technologists work closely with Cerberus investment and operating professionals on targeted initiatives aimed at improving systems and generating value from data. I think we can all agree that he will be an invaluable add as co-chairman. I’m truly excited to see what our company does next. I’ve said it to our division presidents, our leadership team, and everyone who will listen that, simply put, the small moves we are making are adding up. The industry may think that we’re playing catch up with eCommerce, Drive Up and Go, and third-party agreements, but when we look at the whole picture, we’re changing the game for customers in small, simple ways that I’m confident will add up to our being the company that everyone wants to catch up to in the next few years. I am excited about our progress and I look forward to what we’ll accomplish. Our commitment to Making Every Day a Better Day for our people, customers, community and company remains our priority. With 270,00 talented associates serving 34 million customers each week across our nearly 2,300 stores and 5.5 million customers in our 1,700-plus pharmacies, we’re well positioned to serve the evolving food, health and wellness needs of today’s customer in our four wall/no wall company. Thank you for all you do every day to help our teams run great stores.