Kroger promotes executives as it shifts to a digital business
- Kroger has announced a number of executive promotions aimed at boosting its Restock Kroger program, the company said in a press release. Mary Ellen Adcock will now serve as senior vice president, retail operations, following her role as group vice president of retail operations. A Kroger employee since 1999, she has held positions in manufacturing, human resources and regional operations.
- Joe Grieshaber has been promoted to senior vice president, merchandising, from his current role as president of the Fred Meyer division. He started with Kroger in 1983 as a store management trainee and has worked in several merchandising and leadership capacities.
- Robert Clark has been named senior vice president, supply chain, manufacturing and sourcing. Previously he was senior vice president of merchandising, and will now focus on helping Kroger source "anything, anytime and anywhere," according to the press release. Clark joined Kroger in 1985 and has served in several executive positions since 2002.
Kroger's promotions are a strategic effort to maintain momentum for its Restock Kroger program. Now in its second year, the initiative is aimed at redefining customer experience through digital and technological tools, while also finding new partnerships that can help add value, talent and social impact. Kroger is working to use technology more effectively to capture data and better personalize each shopper’s experience, using smart pricing to avoid losing customers over price and optimizing the digital experience.
"We are making progress on redefining the customer experience, and our high-performing leaders are determined to maintain that momentum in year two of Restock Kroger and beyond," said Mike Donnelly, Kroger's executive vice president and chief operating officer, in a statement. "Each of these promotions is consistent with Kroger's track record of strong succession planning and will help ensure we continue driving toward our growth objectives."
In addition to its executive promotions, Kroger also made a number of senior-level promotions in some of its regional divisions. While roles in merchandising, sourcing and retail operations do not immediately lend themselves to the use of data and technology, Kroger is clearly strengthening its executive ranks to support its shift in focus from traditional grocery to data-driven operations.
Kroger has made several moves to support Restock Kroger since announcing it would invest up to $1 billion in the initiative when it launched in 2017. In February, it announced that it's looking for a creative agency of record, marking the first time it has sought marketing counsel beyond its in-house team. The company also announced plans for two more Ocado automated facilities for online grocery fulfillment.
In January, Kroger added Conduent CEO Ashok Vemuri to its board of directors, a tech veteran with deep experience leading digital and technology services companies. The grocery giant has also partnered with Microsoft to create a "connected store system" that enhances in-store technology in two plot locations, and could also serve as an additional revenue stream with sales to other retailers.
While its digital transformation moves forward, Kroger still struggles with its traditional grocery business. With fourth-quarter net income for 2018 dropping $259 million from $854 million compared to the prior year, the grocer is experiencing some growing pains throughout the Restock Kroger process. The company has asked investors to consider it as a growth company versus a grocer, which could add pressure on the new executive team to deliver on Restock Kroger's lofty goals.