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American Stores founder Sam Skaggs dies at 89

BY Michael Johnsen

SALT LAKE CITY — American Stores founder Sam Skaggs died of natural causes at his home Thursday, according to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune. He was 89 years old. 

Retail pharmacy was the family business. Skaggs was the grandson of Safeway founder Marion Skaggs. And his father, Leonard Skaggs, operated PayLess Drug Stores since 1939. 

A video tribute to Skaggs produced by Tuff Cookie Productions is available here

In 1965, Sam Skaggs incorporated the PayLess business as Skaggs Drug Centers and went public. In 1979, Skaggs took over American Stores in Philadelphia.

Before his retirement in 1995, Skaggs operated one of the world’s largest food companies with more than 1,700 locations across 26 states.

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LA Times estimates Tesco lost upward of $2 billion in Fresh & Easy venture

BY Michael Johnsen

LOS ANGELES — A report published Thursday in the Los Angeles Times estimated that U.K.-based Tesco has lost up to $2 billion in its failed Fresh & Easy California venture. Tesco had placed the troubled grocer on the sales bloc in December following the departure of Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason. 

The retailer’s struggles can be traced to labor unions and an ambitious investment into an 850,000-sq.-ft. distribution center that placed pressure on the 200-store chain to expand rapidly, according to the LA Times report. 

Tesco has tasked investment bank Greenhill with conducting a strategic review of Fresh & Easy options that should be ready by April, according to reports. 

Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported on a social-media driven campaign to keep Fresh & Easy locations open. However, according to the LA Times, Fresh & Easy recent emailed customers that the grocer doesn’t know "if Tesco will continue to own the company."

Lease holders of Fresh & Easy locations are already looking for an out. Regency Centers Management, which owns, operates and develops primarily grocery-anchored retail centers, has been on the lookout for replacement tenants since January. "Fresh & Easy, we assume they’re gone," Brian Smith, Regency president, chief operating officer and director told analysts during a quarterly conference call. "We’re actively in discussions with people, with replacement tenants for those spaces. Unfortunately, we’ve only got two operating and they’re both in Northern California and they should be — there’s a lot of demand for those spaces."

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New Supervalu names several executives to key leadership positions

BY Michael Johnsen

MINNEAPOLIS — Supervalu on Friday named several executives to the company’s leadership team one day following the closing of its divestiture of five retail banners to AB Acquisition. 

Janel Haugarth will remain with the company as EVP and president of independent business and supply chain services. Haugarth, a 35-year Supervalu veteran — will oversee the company’s wholesale and distribution business that is expected to account for nearly 50% of the new Supervalu’s annual revenues. She also will lead supply chain services for the company, which consists of 19 distribution centers across the country.

“It was a priority for me to keep Janel with the organization going forward,” stated Sam Duncan, Supervalu president and CEO. “She is highly respected by our independent retailers and her experience and leadership ensures stability as we continue to help these important stakeholders grow and prosper.” 

Randy Burdick has been named EVP, chief information officer for the company, effective March 25. In this role, Burdick will be responsible for Supervalu’s information technology infrastructure and personnel, as well as the shared service/contact center organization. He joins Supervalu after spending the past eight years as chief information officer at OfficeMax.

Burdick has more than 28 years in a variety of technology leadership positions, including experience as group information officer for Hewlett-Packard and chief information officer at Advanced Micro Devices. He began his career as an automation engineer at Harris Semiconductor. Burdick replaces Kathy Persian, SVP and chief information officer, who will leave the company. Persian has served in her current role since Sept. 2012 and previously held the positions of group VP, corporate planning, analysis and business process, finance and group VP of retail and merchandising systems, IT, with the company. She will stay with Supervalu through April 5 to help ensure a smooth and efficient transition, the company noted.

Michele Murphy has been named EVP, human resources and corporate communications for the company, effective March 25. In this role, Murphy will oversee all of Supervalu’s human resources functions, labor relations and corporate communications. She has spent the last seven years as Supervalu’s SVP corporate human resources and labor relations. Murphy has more than 30 years of experience in a variety of positions dealing with employment law, human resources and labor relations. She has served in roles with international law firm Morgan Lewis, grocery store operator American Stores and roles of increasing responsibility at Albertsons and Supervalu. Murphy replaces Dave Pylipow, EVP human resources and corporate communications, who will leave the company at the end of April. Pylipow has served in his current role since 2006, and previously held the position of VP human resources at Save-a-Lot. He will likewise stay with Supervalu for several weeks to help complete the transition of responsibilities.

With the transaction completed, Andy Herring, EVP real estate, market development and legal, will depart the company. Herring joined Supervalu in February 1998 as VP corporate development and external relations and was promoted to SVP in 1999. He has held numerous positions during his career at the company, including management of its in-store pharmacy business from 2002 to 2006. Herring has served in his current role since 2010, during which time he was responsible for real estate, mergers and acquisitions and legal.

Commenting on the departures, Duncan said, “Andy played a critical role in structuring the deal with AB Acquisition, and in overseeing much of the important work necessary to complete the transaction. I appreciate his leadership and many contributions to the company over the past 15 years," he said. “I would also like to personally thank Dave and Kathy for their contributions to the company. Dave has been an integral member of Supervalu for 15 years and of the executive team for the last seven. He has worked tirelessly since the transaction announcement to assist me in building our new organization. [And] during her tenure, Kathy has completed a tremendous amount of work in finance, especially her leadership of our organizational efficiency initiative and technology, including her leadership of improved tools and processes supporting our retail businesses. I wish Andy, Dave and Kathy all the best with their future endeavors.”

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