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Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Albertson COO to Lead C&S Retail if Kroger Merger Approved

A key leadership change is on the horizon for C&S Wholesale Grocers, contingent upon the approval of the proposed merger between Kroger and Albertsons Companies. According to a recent internal memo from Albertsons CEO Vivek Sankaran, Susan Morris, currently serving as the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), is slated to become the President and CEO of Retail for C&S if the deal is finalized.

This news comes alongside the detailed divestiture plan released by Kroger and Albertsons, outlining the stores they intend to sell to C&S to appease concerns raised by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC, along with eight states and the District of Columbia, filed a lawsuit in February 2024 to block the merger due to potential anti-competitive effects.

Morris’ appointment to the top retail position at C&S signifies her extensive experience and industry recognition. The memo highlights her impressive career trajectory, noting that she “rose through the ranks” to become a highly influential leader within Albertsons. Her tenure with the company spans over two decades, during which she has held various leadership roles instrumental in shaping Albertsons’ operations.

Sankaran commends Morris’ contributions, emphasizing her “multi-decade track record of operational excellence, innovation, and growth.”  He also details her future responsibilities at C&S, which will involve leading the retail division encompassing the divested stores from Kroger and Albertsons and C&S’ existing 160 locations. If the merger is approved, this would create a retail network exceeding 730 stores.

The divestiture plan, however, faces scrutiny from various stakeholders. Labor unions and federal regulators express concerns similar to those raised during the Albertsons and Safeway merger in 2015. Back then, the divestiture of 146 stores to Haggen ultimately led to the grocer’s bankruptcy within a few months.

Analysts caution that the success of C&S’ expanded retail division under Morris’ leadership will depend on several factors. These include effectively integrating the divested stores, navigating potential challenges associated with rapid growth, and ensuring a smooth transition for employees across all involved companies.

The FTC’s decision on the merger and the ultimate fate of Morris’ potential appointment at C&S remains to be seen. However, this development underscores the ongoing efforts to address regulatory hurdles and pave the way for a potential reshaping of the grocery retail landscape.

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