- Stater Bros. Markets’ Phil Smith will be retiring as chairman of the board, effective immediately, after holding the position for six years, according to a Wednesday press release. Smith will remain on the board of directors.
- Along with this change, the Southern California grocer’s CEO, Pete Van Helden, has been appointed chairman while Sean Varner, managing partner of Varner & Brandt LLP, will be taking over as vice chairman.
- Stater Bros. has seen a number of executive changes over the last few months including appointing a new chief marketing officer and chief operating officer.
During Smith’s tenure with Stater Bros., the grocer went from having under 100 locations to now having more than 170 stores throughout Southern California, per the announcement.
Since beginning his three-decade career with the grocery chain in 1987 as a controller, Smith was promoted to vice president-controller in 1988. Before his 2012 retirement, Smith served as Stater Bros.’ executive vice president of finance, chief financial officer and chief accounting officer, according to the press release. After the passing of Executive Chairman Jack H. Brown, Smith became chairman of the board in 2016.
“It has been a privilege and honor to serve the Stater Bros. team and our loyal customers over the last 35 years,” Smith said in the announcement. “With Pete and Sean’s leadership, the company will be in capable hands, and I look forward to seeing them take Stater Bros. to the next level.”
Smith’s retirement is spurring board changes for Stater Bros and follows several c-suite and high-level executive shuffles at the company.
Van Helden, the grocer’s CEO since 2016 and vice chairman since 2021, has been with Stater Bros. since 2013. Van Helden will be taking over as chairman while maintaining his position as chief executive officer.
Varner was appointed to serve as corporate secretary and general counsel of Stater Bros. Holdings, Inc. in 2021 and will now take over Van Helden’s former position as vice chairman.
Stater Bros. has seen a number of leadership changes over the past few months. Stater Bros. promoted Greg McNiff to chief operating officer at the end of September and brought in Rebecca Calvin, who most recently worked at The Save Mart Companies, to be senior vice president and chief marketing officer in late August.
Earlier in the summer, Stater Bros. promoted Irene Willins to become its vice president of finance and promoted Bertha Luna to be senior vice president of retail operations.