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Kroger announces retirement of VP and pension investment officer

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Tuesday announced the planned retirement of VP and pension investment officer, Rich Manka, effective July 15.

"Throughout his career, Rich has been a trusted member of Kroger’s leadership team," stated Mike Schlotman, Kroger’s CFO. "Pension plan trustees and participants alike have benefited from his vast knowledge and influence on investment strategies and plan designs. We thank Rich for his contributions to our company and industry and wish him the very best."

Manka began his career with Dillon Companies in 1982 as an investment manager for retirement plans. He was promoted to his current position in 2004. He has served on Kroger’s Retirement Management Committee and is chair of the company’s Pension Investment Committee. In addition to serving as an adviser and trustee on various Taft-Hartley Pension Funds, Manka was appointed by President George Bush to serve on the advisory committee of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Kroger has not yet named Manka’s successor.

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Safeway signs agreement to install SoloHealth Stations across store base

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — Safeway has agreed to install SoloHealth Station kiosks across almost 700 stores as part of a multiyear agreement, SoloHealth announced Tuesday. 

“Safeway shares our commitment of empowering consumers to take charge of their health,” stated Stephen Kendig, chief commercial officer and EVP SoloHealth. “We believe that access, awareness and education are keys to a healthy lifestyle, and we’re bringing comprehensive health and wellness services directly to Safeway’s customers.”

The SoloHealth Stations will be installed beginning in April. The stations are currently located in almost 2,500 retail locations nationwide, expanding to more than 4,000 by 2014.  

 

 

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Family Dollar creates SVP merchandise operations

BY Michael Johnsen

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Family Dollar Stores on Monday named Scott Zucker to the newly created position of SVP merchandise operations. Zucker will be responsible for driving the strategy and execution of merchandise initiatives, category management, merchandise planning and replenishment.

The appointment was welcomed on Wall Street. "We believe that [Zucker’s] experience in pricing and merchandise operations could prove valuable as the company works to better manage the impact of its merchandising initiatives on mix and markdowns," wrote Citi Research analyst Deborah Weinswig in a note published Monday morning. 

Analysts have been concerned that Family Dollar, along with other dollar channel operators, would be facing increasing pressure from lower margins tied to sharper promotions. And their customer base is supposed to be challenged, with more middle-income shoppers gravitating toward higher-end retail outlets even as the discretionary dollars of their lower-income shoppers were challenged by rising gas prices and January’s "payroll tax."

"This sector of the market was supposed to be finished as things got better and people shopped at Target and Costco," remarked Jim Cramer Monday on an episode of "The Street."  But that’s not happening, he said. Cramer was bullish on the sector in the wake of a positive Dollar General quarter on Monday, though he was not as high on Family Dollar.  

Improving operations in a meaningful way may help change that perception at Family Dollar. "This new alignment will allow for improved execution, simplified operational processes, inventory optimization and faster strategic decision-making," stated Michael Bloom, Family Dollar president and COO. "Scott brings a wealth of leadership and experience in merchandising, supply chain planning and information technology, all of which will provide tremendous support of our long-term strategic goals."

Zucker will report to Bloom. 

Zucker joined Family Dollar in 2006 as divisional VP pricing. In 2007 he was promoted to VP merchandise operations, and most recently, Zucker served as VP IT solutions.

Prior to joining Family Dollar, Zucker was with BearingPoint Consulting. After graduating from Davidson College, he started his retail career with Belk. He earned his MBA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1997.

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