Head merchant at Kroger heads to C-suite

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Head merchant at Kroger heads to C-suite

By Gina Acosta - 10/24/2017

Kroger has added new talent to the C-suite as it looks to implement a three-year strategy to focus on an improved customer experience and sustained sales growth.

Mike Donnelly has been named executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Kroger Co.

Currently the company’s executive vice president of merchandising, Donnelly will assume responsibility for both operations and merchandising upon the retirement of Fred Morganthall, executive vice president of retail operations.

"Kroger is fortunate to have a leadership team that combines deep experience with creative new talent as we strategically reposition the company through our Restock Kroger Plan," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO.

At its annual investor meeting in New York this month, Kroger laid out its "Restock" plan, which will consist of heavy capital investments — $9 billion over the next three years — coupled with cost savings in certain business segments.

Kroger's key lines of business continue to be led by three executive vice presidents who are driving execution of Restock Kroger: Donnelly, Mike Schlotman, who serves as executive vice president and chief financial officer, and Chris Hjelm, who serves as executive vice president and chief information officer.

Morganthall will retire from the company after 31 years of service, and 44 years in the food industry.

"There are few people in our industry as widely respected as Fred," said McMullen. "He worked tirelessly to establish the Harris Teeter brand and, after our merger, to help position Kroger for future success. We've all benefited from Fred's passion for grocery retail and operational excellence. We are grateful for Fred's distinguished service and many contributions to Kroger and Harris Teeter, and we wish him and his family all the best."

Morganthall's professional life began at Procter & Gamble in 1973. His career in grocery retail began in 1978 at Spartan Stores in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he was responsible for grocery, frozen and dairy purchasing as well as general merchandise and beauty care. In 1986, he joined Harris Teeter as director of grocery merchandising. 

After the 2013 merger of Kroger and Harris Teeter, Morganthall was named Kroger's senior vice president in June 2015. He was promoted to his current role, executive vice president of retail operations, in September 2015.

Morganthall has been an active leader in industry organizations, including serving as chair of the Food Marketing Institute. In 2016, FMI honored him with its most prestigious leadership recognition, the Sidney R. Rabb Award.

Donnelly, Kroger's executive vice president of merchandising, will assume responsibility for the company's operations and merchandising as EVP and COO, effective November 1.

"Mike and his team will help us redefine the food and grocery experience for customers and drive sales," said McMullen. "By bringing merchandising and operations together under Mike's leadership, we will build synergies between our teams and accelerate our efforts to establish a truly seamless customer experience."

Donnelly began his career at Fry's Food Stores in California in 1978. He advanced to several leadership positions at Fry's, including district management. He was named vice president of merchandising for Fry's in 1995 and promoted to president of the Fry's division in 2000. He has served as Kroger's senior vice president of drug/GM, president of the company's Ralphs division, and senior vice president of merchandising before being promoted to his current position in 2015.

Kroger currently operates 2,793 retail food stores under a variety of local banner names in 35 states and the District of Columbia. 

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