- Midwestern wholesale grocery distributor and retailer SpartanNash has hired Brian Holt, the former vice president of marketing, advertising and public relations for Mid-Atlantic grocer Weis Markets, as its new vice president of marketing, according to The Shelby Report.
- Holt, who was named in The Griffin Report's "Top 40 Under 40" list in 2014, will play a key role in helping the wholesaler and retailer expand its loyalty programs, click-and-collect services and personalized shopping experiences, according to Larry Pierce, executive vice president of merchandising and marketing at SpartanNash.
- “He is also well versed in market penetration and growth through consumer research and product placement strategies,” Pierce told The Shelby Report.
Retailers are always shuffling the deck, but executive moves are coming at a particularly fast pace these days. Target, Save-A-Lot and Albertsons have all made recent hires for top positions. With Whole Foods facing intense pressure and traditional retailers scrambling to stay relevant against alternative formats, there's a good chance the shakeups will continue.
What's driving the recent activity? In a word: competition. Retailers are seeking an edge anywhere they can find one in an increasingly crowded industry. The ambitious growth plans set by Aldi and Lidl have put many companies on high alert. With Aldi just beginning its ambitious remodel and expansion plan and Lidl just months away from making its long-awaited arrival onto U.S. soil, retailers are bracing for impact.
In some cases, grocers are hiring executives with intimate knowledge of their top competitors' operations. Just this month, Save-A-Lot hired not one but two former Lidl executives, which will give the company valuable intelligence about its most feared rival.
New executive hires certainly can have a major impact — for better or for worse. Top grocery executives set the agenda for their companies in an industry that increasingly relies on differentiation.
Holt, for his part, seems to be prized for his digital savvy. Given his rising star in the industry, it appears to be a good move for SpartanNash. But a gain one day can be a loss the next: Earlier this year, SpartanNash's president of wholesale and distribution operations went to Smart & Final, the California-based chain of food and supply stores, and became the new president of its foodservice division.