Major Executive Shake-Up At Struggling Delhaize America

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Delhaize America CEO Roland Smith continues to reshape the company after promising sweeping changes when he took the post in late 2012. Smith’s changes have been swift and decisive, as detailed in an internal letter to associates (see pages 38 and 39 of the print edition of Food Trade News).

In early December, Smith announced a big shake-up in the leadership team, naming Beth Newlands Campbell to head its Food Lion, replacing Cathy Green Burns, and Brad Wise as president and CEO of Hannaford and Sweetbay, replacing Mark Doiron. Green Burns and Doiron both left the Salisbury, NC retail organization at that time.

Ten days after the internal memo was issued, the international retailer announced it would be closing 45 stores by the middle of February. Three of those stores are Bottom Dollar Food locations in the Delaware Valley – North Wales, PA; Chalfont, PA; and Exeter Twp., PA. Delhaize America will also be closing eight Food Lion units in Virginia, North Carolina and south Carolina and 33 Sweetbay Supermarkets and a pharmacy in Florida.

The company’s parent organization, The Delhaize Group, also announced fourth quarter 2012 sales (the full earnings report will be out in early March). In the U.S., overall sales increased 1.9 percent. The company also noted that transactions at those Food Lion locations that were “rebranded” were up 3.5 percent.

The executive changes announced in the internal memo were geared to streamline the organization, Smith said, in order  to “provide clarity of responsibility and accountability for the newly formed Delhaize America Leadership Team (DALT).”

In need of a makeover, parent company The Delhaize Group chose Roland Smith, former president and CEO of the Wendy’s/Arby’s group, as CEO of its America unit in October 2012, replacing Ron Hodge, under whose leadership the company had struggled with earnings and identical store sales, particularly at its large Food Lion unit, which comprises about 65 percent of Delhaize America’s sales. In addition to his stint at Wendy’s and Arby’s, Smith had served as CEO of Triarc Cos., American Golf Corp. and AMF Bowling World.

Smith is clearly moving decisively to change the course of a struggling company where the only growth area in recent years has been at its extreme value Bottom Dollar Foods unit, which opened its first Delaware Valley store in King of Prussia, PA in October 2010. The division, which continues to be headed by president Meg Ham, steadily added stores in the region. In 2011, BDF expanded into the Pittsburgh-Youngstown market with the opening of 14 new stores and Southern and Central New Jersey with five stores. In March 2012, the international retailer announced additional expansion plans for Southern and Central New Jersey, naming eight additional locations where stores would open. Currently, BDF operates 53 stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey (plus three in Ohio). Most recently, the retailer debuted its newest unit in November on Girard Avenue in Philadelphia.

In this month’s internal memo, Smith unveiled his latest round of management changes, representing about a 25 percent reduction at the retailer’s officer level.  Departing Delhaize America effective January 11 were: Pete Bonneau, VP-center store merchandising; Mike Brooks, VP-strategy; Jim Corby, VP-produce merchandising; Steve Culver, VP-government relations, Northeast; James Egan, SVP-retail operations for Food Lion; Kristen Hanson, VP-Our Brands; Mike Harris, VP-risk management; Lisa Miller, VP-sustainability; Kyle Price, VP-produce merchandising for Food Lion; T.R. Robinson, SVP-merchandising for Food Lion; and Lisa Toner, VP-legal affairs.