- Publix announced several leadership moves set to take effect next year, according to a company release.
- Randy Barber, current director of industrial maintenance, will become vice president of industrial maintenance and purchasing. Publix’s rapidly evolving fresh business units, meanwhile, will be overseen by two officers: Pete Mowitt, who is currently president of product business development for grocery and non-foods, will oversee bakery and meat RBUs as vice president of product business development for bakery and meat, while Chris Litz, will stay in his position overseeing the deli and produce side. Brad Oliver, currently business development director of direct store delivery products, will assume Mowitt’s former duties as vice president of product business development for dry grocery and non-foods.
- Publix noted that the new roles reflect the company’s continuing focus on growth and innovation.
Publix’s leadership shuffle reflects both the opportunities and challenges the grocer faces as it defends its home turf and pushes into new markets. Moves in the company’s fresh retail division in particular reflect a focus on high-margin produce, bakery and meat categories.
Other retailers are repositioning staff to put more resources where it counts. This summer Walmart, like Publix, split up leadership of its fresh divisions, and also moved a produce and global sourcing manager over to lead up a new Hispanic consumer initiative.
Publix is under enormous pressure these days. Competition is heating up in Florida, with discounter Aldi, along with low-price specialty grocers like Lucky’s Market and Sprouts Farmers Market, building stores. At the same time, it’s fighting hard to acquire customers in the fiercely competitive mid-Atlantic market.
Publix’s service-focused model hasn’t changed much over the years, but analysts recently interviewed by Food Dive say it should continue to pay dividends for the company.
"Overall, Publix is set up very nicely right now and should expect some nice returns long term," grocery analyst David Livingtson recently told Food Dive.
Financial results for the company have been a mixed bag lately. Earlier this year, Publix reported its first same-store sales decline in more than seven years. Results have improved as the year has progressed, though profits and stock performance for the privately held company have been mediocre. In the most recent financial quarter, Publix reported a $200 million sales bump thanks to Hurricane Irma.