By Michael Calia
Kroger Co. (KR) on Thursday said Michael L. Ellis will become president and chief operating officer of the supermarket operator at the beginning of the new year.
Mr. Ellis, currently the company's senior vice president of retail divisions, will replace W. Rodney McMullen, 53 years old, who will take over as chief executive effective Jan. 1.
Kroger in September said current CEO David B. Dillon, 62, would retire from that post Jan. 1. Mr. Dillon, CEO since 2003, will remain the company's chairman through the end of next year, however, according to the company's succession plan.
Mr. Ellis, 55, started as a parcel clerk at age 16 with Fred Meyer, working his way through several positions in the northwestern U.S. store chain over the years, the company said. Kroger bought Fred Meyer in 1999 for $13.5 billion.
The executive changes come amid a pressure-filled time for traditional grocers, with increased competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and other mass retailers, as well as from more upscale peers such as Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM).
Kroger, however, has weathered much of the difficulty. In September, the company posted a 14% profit increase on continued sales growth in the most recent quarter.
Shares of Kroger were down 1 cent to $41.86 in Thursday afternoon trading. The stock is up 61% so far this year.
Write to Michael Calia at email@example.com
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 17, 2013 12:48 ET (16:48 GMT)Copyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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