Safeway chief to retire in May

After 20 years at the helm, Steve Burd will pursue opportunities in health care

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway late Wednesday announced that Steve Burd, its long-time chairman and CEO, will retire at the company's annual stockholders meeting on May 14, 2013. Safeway's board will begin a search for a successor, and will consider both internal and external candidates for the job, the grocer stated.  

"I feel this is the right time to move forward with a transition plan," Burd stated. "The Company is gaining market share with each passing quarter. We have developed the most sophisticated digital marketing platform in retail, we are implementing the most comprehensive and personalized fuel loyalty program, and we will be rolling out a wellness initiative that has the potential to transform the company," he said. "While I still have the high level of energy and enthusiasm I brought to the company 20 years ago, I need more personal time and, given my extensive work in health care, I want to pursue that interest further."

Burd joined Safeway in October 1992 as president and was appointed CEO in May of the following year. Among some of his key initiatives were developing the "Lifestyle" store format and forming a prepaid payment network that has become one of the larger distributors of gift cards. 

More recently, Safeway has introduced a digital marketing/loyalty platform called just for U, a platform that allows Safeway to personalize its prices to individual shoppers. Safeway has also partnered with a technology company to bring innovative health care services to Safeway customers.

Safeway has also been recognized for its employee health plans. In the last eight years, Safeway has introduced innovative design and practice features into its health plans. As a result, while the average U.S. company experienced an 8% annual growth in employer health care costs from 2005 through 2011, Safeway averaged a 2% annual growth rate for both the employer and employee contributions, the company stated. 

Burd also accelerated Safeway's efforts in charitable giving and sustainability. During his tenure, the company raised more than $2 billion for charities, including over $200 million for cancer research.

Burd will help with the executive search and will continue to assist the company after he transitions out of his leadership posts.

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