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Kroger announces retirement of Bill Breetz, names three new division presidents

The Kroger Co. announced the retirement of Houston division President Bill Breetz and the promotion of Marlene Stewart to succeed him. Stewart currently serves as president of the company’s Dillons division.

Colleen Juergensen, who currently serves as vice president of merchandising of the Smith’s division, will succeed Stewart as president of Dillons.krolog

Kroger also announced the promotion of Pam Matthews to serve as president of the company’s QFC division. Matthews currently serves as vice president of operations for Kroger’s Delta division. She succeeds Dennis Gibson, who was recently named president of the King Soopers/City Market division.

“Kroger has an exceptionally strong team of leaders who are fueling our growth and improving our connection with customers,” Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Marlene, Colleen and Pam bring unmatched depth and experience to their new roles. They will help Kroger continue to make a difference for our customers, associates, and communities — and by doing so create value for our shareholders.”

“Bill’s extraordinary career demonstrates a passion for people and a passion for results. He leads by caring deeply about associates and developing future leaders,” said McMullen. “Bill’s leadership has contributed to Kroger’s success and growth. The entire Kroger family thanks Bill for his many contributions over the years and wishes he and his family all the best in retirement.”

Breetz began his Kroger career in 1972 as a bagger in Louisville, KY. After earning a degree at the University of Louisville in 1977, he joined the management training program and was named a co-manager in Cincinnati. He served in several leadership positions through the years, including store and district management and vice president of merchandising for the company’s Cincinnati/Dayton division. In 2000, Breetz was promoted to executive vice president of Kroger’s Southwest division with responsibility for operations in Dallas. In 2001, he assumed responsibility for operations in Houston as well. He was named president of the Southwest division in 2002, and president of the Houston division in 2015.

Breetz has been active in a variety of community organizations throughout his career, most recently supporting the Houston Food Bank, the Greater Houston Partnership, the Boy Scouts of America, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and other local charities. Breetz and his wife, Jo Ann, have three children and three grandchildren.

Stewart started her career with Kroger in 1977 as a bagger in the company’s Cincinnati division, where she worked full-time while attending the University of Cincinnati. She went on to serve in many leadership roles in Cincinnati, including store and district management, training and merchandising. In 2005, Stewart was named director of operations for Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic division before being named vice president of operations in 2007. She was named vice president of merchandising in the company’s QFC division in 2011. She was named to her current role in 2015.

Juergensen began her Kroger career with the Dillons division in 1981. She served in various leadership roles of increasing responsibility including store manager, zone manager and director of advertising. In 2008, she was promoted to Dillons vice president of operations. She was named vice president of operations of Smith’s in 2012, and to her current role in 2015.

Matthews began her career with the company’s Fred Meyer division, based in Portland, OR, in 1980. Throughout her 25-year career with Fred Meyer, she held a variety of leadership roles in store management, corporate brand development and merchandising. Matthews also served as director of deli/bakery merchandising and director of floral merchandising and procurement at Kroger’s general offices in Cincinnati before being promoted to vice president of merchandising for the Central division in 2006. She was named vice president of merchandising for the Delta Division in 2014 and to her current role in 2015.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Fairway Market founder announces retirement

Howard Glickberg, who took his grandfather’s fruit and vegetable stand on 74th and Broadway in New York City and built it into the iconic Fairway Market, with 15 locations across the tri-state New York/New Jersey/Connecticut region, will retire from the company effective immediately.

The announcement was made by Jack Murphy, Fairway Market’s chief executive officer, who added that Glickberg would remain on the company’s board.

“Howie has been indefatigable and indispensable to Fairway’s growth over the past four decades,” Murphy said in press release. “It was his vision to bring together the corner butcher, bakery, cheese monger, fish market and farmer’s market all under one roof, and add in an unparalleled selection of traditional, specialty and organic groceries at the best prices. All this has brought Fairway iconic status and enabled the company to truly earn the moniker ‘Like No Other Market.’”

Glickberg, who began unofficially working at Fairway as a child when he would accompany his father to the original 74th St. and Broadway location, and then officially while a college student, said it was simply time to step down.

“I’ve dedicated the past 40 years of my life to building the world’s greatest food store,” Glickberg, 67, said in the press release. “It’s been my life’s work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the past when I would take a little vacation, I would somehow wind up visiting a supermarket. And if I saw an apple out of place I would fix it. So I’ve never traveled anywhere without Fairway on my mind.”

Glickberg noted that his grandfather, Nathan, would be “amazed” and “proud” that the “small fruit and vegetable stand he opened more than 80 years ago has evolved into a company that is beloved by so many people across the tri-state region.”

Glickberg said he shares Fairway’s success with the “tens of thousands of dedicated employees and the millions of dedicated customers” with whom he has had the pleasure of working and serving the past four decades, and stressed that “without all of them, Fairway would not have become the icon that it has.”

Glickberg began his full-time involvement with Fairway Market in 1974 — six years after he graduated from C.W. Post College and after a stint as a stockbroker and a part-time staff member at a fish market. In 1975, to build the company, he partnered with David Sneddon and Harold Seybert. They began adding specialty items, expanding the space and emphasizing fresh fruit and vegetables that is at the core of all Fairway Markets.

For the next three decades, he and his dedicated team helped to make Fairway Market an icon in New York City and the food store with the highest volume per square foot of any in the country. When he decided to open a store in Harlem, he “ignored anyone who said he was crazy,” believing that high quality merchandise at the best prices is what every consumer wants. Fairway was welcomed into its neighborhood in 1995, where it continues to thrive.

Locations in Plainview, Long Island and Red Hook, Brooklyn, followed over the next several years, before Sterling Investment Partners acquired a controlling interest in the company and infused it with capital in order to facilitate greater expansion. There are now 15 Fairway Markets and three Fairway Wine & Spirits locations.

Glickberg said he is “especially proud that we’ve always been more than just a grocery retailer. We’ve always been — and I know we will always continue to be — a friend, a neighbor, a family.”

He pointed to Fairway’s commitment to supporting charitable organizations in the neighborhoods in which the stores are located, as well as its ongoing programs benefiting police, fire and military personnel.

Glickberg said his proudest moments came in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, when Fairway provided food and meals to first responders for at least a month, and following Hurricane Sandy when, despite its own Red Hook store being destroyed, Fairway donated truckloads of food and prepared thousands of free Thanksgiving and holiday meals for displaced families, and kept all 300 Red Hook Fairway employees on staff by providing free transportation to other Fairway stores.

Glickberg and Fairway Market have earned accolades and awards along the way including Entrepreneur of the Year from Deloitte & Touche, Business of the Year by the Westside Chamber of Commerce, Top 50 Influential Businessman in NYC by Crain’s, Top 50 Retailer by The Gourmet Retailer, Outstanding Specialty Food Retailers from Specialty Food, and Consumer Deal of the Year by M&A Magazine. Fairway was also listed on Inc.’s top 5000 fastest growing private companies for 2008, 2009, and 2010.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Big Y collecting worn American flags for proper retirement

For the third year in a row, in honor of Flag Day, Big Y is collecting worn, torn, faded or badly soiled American flags for proper retirement. Big Y is working with local Boy Scouts, American Legions, VFW’s and military organizations to properly retire the collected flags.

From May 22 to June 11, all Big Y locations, including Fresh Acres and Table & Vine, will have special receptacles for accepting the worn flags. These flags will be delivered to the local organizations listed above to ensure proper retirement with dignity and respect. Since 2012, Big Y has collected more than 10,000 American flags for proper retirement.

The collecting organizations will hold a special flag retirement ceremony that conforms to the United States Flag Code.

United States Federal Law provides that “the flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” (36 U.S.C. 176(k)) The burning symbolizes purification and rebirth when performed during a ceremony. After a final tribute, a flag is cut in 13 strips that represent the original 13 colonies, and the 50 stars to pay homage to the 50 states. The strips are then respectively placed on a fire. The ashes are then collected and buried after the Pledge of Allegiance is recited and a moment of silence is observed.

Flag Day was established in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson. It is celebrated every year on June 14 to observe the adoption of the first national flag in 1777. Big Y proudly displays the American Flag outside of every location.

“As a symbol of our being an American owned supermarket, Big Y is proud to help our communities by properly retiring their worn, tattered or soiled American flags,” Big Y CEO Donald H. D’Amour said in a press release. 

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Big Y collecting worn American flags for proper retirement

For the third year in a row, in honor of Flag Day, Big Y is collecting worn, torn, faded or badly soiled American flags for proper retirement. Big Y is working with local Boy Scouts, American Legions, VFW’s and military organizations to properly retire the collected flags.

From May 22 to June 11, all Big Y locations, including Fresh Acres and Table & Vine, will have special receptacles for accepting the worn flags. These flags will be delivered to the local organizations listed above to ensure proper retirement with dignity and respect. Since 2012, Big Y has collected more than 10,000 American flags for proper retirement.

The collecting organizations will hold a special flag retirement ceremony that conforms to the United States Flag Code.

United States Federal Law provides that “the flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” (36 U.S.C. 176(k)) The burning symbolizes purification and rebirth when performed during a ceremony. After a final tribute, a flag is cut in 13 strips that represent the original 13 colonies, and the 50 stars to pay homage to the 50 states. The strips are then respectively placed on a fire. The ashes are then collected and buried after the Pledge of Allegiance is recited and a moment of silence is observed.

Flag Day was established in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson. It is celebrated every year on June 14 to observe the adoption of the first national flag in 1777. Big Y proudly displays the American Flag outside of every location.

“As a symbol of our being an American owned supermarket, Big Y is proud to help our communities by properly retiring their worn, tattered or soiled American flags,” Big Y CEO Donald H. D’Amour said in a press release. 

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

JICC seeks comment on coupon barcode retirement

The Joint Industry Coupon Committee is soliciting industry comments on its intent to retire the use of UPC barcodes on all coupons used in North America by June 30, 2015.


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The JICC plans to submit a request to GS1 to retire the UPC Prefix 5 and GS1 Prefix 99 symbols from use, to help move the industry away from a hybrid format and toward exclusive use of the GS1 DataBar symbol on coupons.

In addition to coupon redemption efficiencies, according to JICC, exclusive use of the GS1 DataBar can reduce incidences of intentional coupon fraud and unintentional coupon mis-redemption.

Stakeholders should submit comments to Jeanne Iglesias, senior director of industry affairs at GMA, by June 16, 2014, at [email protected].



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Kroger senior VP announces retirement

The Kroger Co. announced that Senior Vice President Robert (Pete) Williams plans to retire in May after 37 years with the company.  

Williams has served in his current role since 2007. Today, he leads seven supermarket divisions. His replacement will be named at a later date.

“Throughout his extraordinary career, Pete’s leadership has reflected his passion for our associates, customers and local communities. He has been a tremendous asset to our company and will be missed,” Mike Ellis, Kroger’s president and chief operating officer, said in a press release. “Whether developing associates and fostering career paths for many people within the company, or influencing Kroger to improve the customer experience, Pete led with a contagious enthusiasm and steady presence. We thank Pete for his many years of dedicated service and wish him and his wife, Jennifer, the very best in retirement.”

Upon graduating from the University of Mississippi, Williams began his Kroger career in 1977 as a management trainee in Memphis, TN, with the company’s Delta division. Beginning in 1978 he held a variety of human resources leadership roles, working his way up to serve as director of labor relations at the company’s general office in 1987. He moved back to Atlanta three years later, where he spent the next several years serving as vice president of operations and vice president of merchandising, before being promoted to president of Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic division in 1998. 

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Coast Produce lures Jerry Wagner out of retirement

Jerry Wagner, who retired Aug. 9 as director of sales and marketing at Farmer’s Best International LLC in Nogales, AZ, after 27 seasons with the company, has joined Los Angeles-based Coast Produce Inc. as vice president of business development.

Wagner told The Produce News Feb. 6 that he had a meeting last fall with John Dunn, owner of Coast Produce and Dunn asked “if I would lend a hand” in helping the company achieve some of its goals.

Jerry-WagnerJerry Wagner“I have been dealing with Coast Produce for decades and built up a real good relationship with them, so I am excited about the opportunity to join the team,” Wagner said. “They already have a very strong team. It is just a matter of going out and helping them improve on their customer base and look at some opportunities that they may be missing.”

Wagner said he will be based out of his home on a small ranch in Santa Cruz County in Arizona, but will do traveling for the company, calling on customers and prospective customers, “in the near future.”

Wagner has been in produce since 1973. “I worked for my father at Wagner Distributing till 1978, then joined Western Fruit Sales, which was a division of A. Duda & Sons,” he said.

He was with that company for five years, then Western Fruit Sales pulled out of Nogales and a grower opened up a distribution company, San Luis Distributing, in the same space.

“I still had the same desk” and worked for San Luis Distributing for the next five years, he said. “Then I joined Farmer’s Best in October of 1987.”

Wagner said he was “fully anticipating enjoying retirement” when Dunn asked him to help out at Coast Produce.

“The owner, John Dunn reached out to Jerry after a relationship that spans back about 20 years,” Mike Ito, chief executive officer of Coast Produce, told The Produce News Feb. 7.

Coast Produce had been “pivotal in marketing [the Farmer's Best] product line here in Los Angeles, and they developed a very good, sound relationship,” said Ito. “What Jerry brings is certainly his leadership skills and his insights” into produce marketing, having had the opportunity to work with several organizations throughout the country.

“The plan is for Jerry and I to be traveling and looking at business development,” Ito said.

In Los Angeles, Coast Produce is a consolidator and mixer, but in addition to providing products for customers, “we also have … a very robust in-house marketing and merchandising [team]” consisting of retail specialists with years of experience, according to Ito.

Among Cost Produce’s customer base are commissaries throughout several western states, Ito said. “We have 23 of our own retail merchandisers in the units.” Drawing on that expertise, “we have been able to help retailers, both small independents and some of the larger companies, offering a full suite of services” including logistics, programs, point-of-sale and other retail support.

The company has received several requests from retailers and wholesalers locally and out-of-state who are aware of the services Coast Produce provides to the commissaries and who are “looking for that retail expertise” and help in expanding their businesses, he said.

Some of the wholesalers are asking “for our help for sourcing and to help provide some of the retail solutions they can offer to some of their potential customers,” said Ito.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Ahold USA announces retirement of Giant Carlisle division president

Ahold USA announced that Rick Herring, president of the Giant Carlisle Division, has made the decision to retire, effective Feb. 14.

hshoHerring has had a successful career at Ahold companies for nearly 25 years and has made many contributions to the Ahold organization.

“We would like to thank Rick for his numerous contributions to our companies, as well as for his leadership, dedication, and years of service,”James McCann, chief operating officer of Ahold USA, said in a press release. “We wish him all the best in this next phase of his life and career.”

Bhavdeep Singh, Ahold USA executive vice president of operations, will oversee the Giant Carlisle Division on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is named.

The Giant Carlisle Division, headquartered in Carlisle, PA, operates nearly 200 supermarkets in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia under the banner of GIANT/MARTIN’S. The division employs more than 31,000 associates.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

TIPA President and former United Fresh and USDA official John McClung feted at Texas retirement party

In Texas, cowboys do not retire — they ride off into the sunset. John McClung, president and chief executive officer of the Texas International Produce Association since 1999 and a former United Fresh and national government official, recently packed his saddlebags and has officially turned over the reins of TIPA to Bret Erickson, who had already been serving in that capacity for the past year-plus.

McClung-3Bret Erickson, Gracie Gonzalez, John McClung, Lilly Garcia and Nicole Southwell at McClung’s retirement party.Despite McClung’s protestations that he “didn’t want any *&^%$ party, no @#$ %* speeches, and no #$ %&@ parting gifts or awards,” more than 50 well-wishers turned up at the Nuevo Santander Art Gallery in McAllen, TX, to provide an appropriate sendoff for the man who played a pivotal role in expanding the Texas produce deal across international borders.

Said Erickson, “We showered him with praise and he seemed to have a great time catching up with a lot of his old friends, some of whom he hadn’t seen in a while.”

The setting was particularly fitting since McClung, an accomplished woodworker, has several pieces on display in the gallery. He will have more time to pursue that activity moving forward and also looks forward to focusing more on the bucolic bed and breakfast he and wife, Judy, operate near McAllen as a getaway for birdwatchers.

McClung became president of TIPA (then Texas Produce Association) in 1999 and oversaw the Texas Produce Export Association; Texas Gift Pack Shippers Association; Texas Produce Marketing Cooperative; TexaSweet Citrus Industries Inc.; and three federal marketing orders for South Texas (citrus, dry onions and melons). He also served on the Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee of U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a member of the Texas Border Coalition and is active on boards of the Fruit & Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation, Frontera Audubon Society and Friends of the Wildlife Corridor.

McClung began his career in 1968 as a general assignment reporter for United Press International based in California. After completing his masters at the University of Minnesota in 1971 he joined Miller Publishing, a subsidiary of the American Broadcasting Co., and in 1973 was named that operation’s Washington bureau chief.

In 1981 he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as director of Information & Legislative Affairs for the USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service. In 1984, he became USDA’s overall director of Information.

In 1987, McClung became senior director of Public Affairs for United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association (now United Fresh Produce Association) and in 1990 was named vice president for Government Relations and Public Affairs.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Wegmans Offers Early Retirement: Report

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Wegmans Food Market is offering an early retirement package to workers who are at least 58 years old, according to local reports.


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The family-owned chain, based here, said the offer would be available to employees who have been with the company at least 15 years, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported. Workers would receive two weeks of salary for each year they have been employed continuously by Wegmans, the newspaper quoted a company spokeswoman as saying.

The spokeswoman, Jo Natale, said the company expects “fewer than 100” of the state’s 25,000 workers to accept the deal.

Employees already have access to a voluntary 401(k) plan, according to the Demcrat & Chronicle article.

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Wegmans Offers Early Retirement: Report

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Wegmans Food Market is offering an early retirement package to workers who are at least 58 years old, according to local reports.


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Join SN’s LinkedIn Group to network with industry professionals.


The family-owned chain, based here, said the offer would be available to employees who have been with the company at least 15 years, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported. Workers would receive two weeks of salary for each year they have been employed continuously by Wegmans, the newspaper quoted a company spokeswoman as saying.

The spokeswoman, Jo Natale, said the company expects “fewer than 100” of the state’s 25,000 workers to accept the deal.

Employees already have access to a voluntary 401(k) plan, according to the Demcrat & Chronicle article.

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Denges Plans Retirement at Central Grocers

JOLIET, Ill. — Central Grocers here on Monday said that its president and chief executive officer, Jim Denges, would retire next month after 35 years with the company.

Jim Denges“After three and a half decades of commitment to Central Grocers, our members, and our stores, I could not be more pleased with where our company stands today,” said Denges in a statement. “We have experienced sustained growth and established exceptional operating efficiencies across our facilities. I am confident that I am leaving Central Grocers well situated for continued success as we near our second century of service.”

Ken NemethThe cooperative’s board of directors has selected Ken Nemeth to succeed Denges. Nemeth joined Central Grocers as executive vice president and chief operating officer in March of 2012 after serving as president and CEO of Valu Merchandisers Co., a subsidiary of Associated Wholesale Grocers, in Kansas City, Kan.

The leadership transition will coincide with the end of Central Grocer’s fiscal year on Aug. 4. Denges will remain a consultant to the board of directors.

Denges had succeeded Joe Caccamo as president and CEO of Central Grocers in August of 2007. Through a series of acquisitions, facilities expansion, and operations improvements, sales have grown over 60% during Denges’s tenure as CEO.

Founded in 1917, Central Grocers has grown to become the nation’s 7th largest grocery cooperative, with consolidated annual sales of more than $ 2 billion. Central Grocers supplies more than 500 retail stores in the Midwest.

Read more: Denges’ outlook for the second half of 2013

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