Albertsons Cos. Names New Head Merchant

PepsiCo veteran Jennifer Saenz becomes chief merchandising officer
Gina Acosta
Executive Editor
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Albertsons Cos. Names New Head Merchant
Jennifer Saenz, 43, will join the company as EVP and chief merchandising officer effective July 12. 

Albertsons Cos. has named a veteran from PepsiCo as head merchant at the grocery company.

Jennifer Saenz, 43, will join the company as EVP and chief merchandising officer effective July 12. Saenz is filling a position previously held by Geoff White who Albertsons said has taken a leave of absence.

With the appointment of Saenz, Albertsons has further diversified its gender representation in the c-suite. Saenz joins Albertsons Chief Operating Officer Susan Morris and Chris Rupp, chief customer and digital officer, both previously named Top Women in Grocery by Progressive Grocer. In April, Albertsons named Danielle Crop as SVP and chief data officer.

Saenz will report to CEO Vivek Sankaran and will be responsible for all areas of merchandising within the company, including Albertsons Cos.’ Own Brands, a key driver of the company’s transformation.

"We’re excited to welcome Jennifer to the Albertsons team,” Sankaran said. “A commitment to serving our customers with a broad and differentiated assortment of products is a key aspect of our transformation strategy. Jennifer’s extensive global industry experience and proven track record of driving growth through marketing, analytics and product innovation, grounded in a deep understanding of the consumer, will allow her to make significant contributions to our business and elevate the Albertsons brand for our customers, brand partners and associates.”

According to the company, Saenz has a proven track record of driving growth through marketing, analytics and product innovation, grounded in a deep understanding of the consumer, that will allow her to make significant contributions to the company as it executes its merchandising strategy. 

Saenz has over 15 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods sector, holding roles of increasing responsibility within PepsiCo since 2005. Since 2019, Saenz has served as global chief marketing officer and president, Global Foods, with responsibility for the $30 billion PepsiCo Foods portfolio. From 2015 to 2019, Saenz served as SVP and chief marketing officer of PepsiCo Foods North America, where she accelerated growth and drove innovation for the $16 billion snacking portfolio. From 2009 to 2015 she held a number of brand and customer marketing positions within Frito-Lay.

“I am honored to join Albertsons, and to work with Vivek and the company’s talented management team,” said Saenz. “Albertsons is undertaking a transformation that is further strengthening its position as an industry leader focused on deepening its relationship with customers. I am excited to leverage my experience and partner with our vendors to continue providing great products and great value to our customers.”

Saenz graduated from The Goizueta School of Business at Emory University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and received an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Saenz has been recognized for her professional accomplishments through a number of awards, including Fast Company’s Most Creative People in 2018, Brand Innovators’ Top 100 Women in Marketing in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and AdWeek’s Brand Genius Award in 2017.

In April Albertsons reported its fourth consecutive quarter of digital growth over 200% on April 26, as online shoppers flocked to the company's grocery delivery solutions, curbside pickup capabilities and innovative apps.

For the fourth quarter ended Feb. 27, digital sales at Albertsons skyrocketed 282% as the company experienced a rapid acceleration in online transactions amid the pandemic. To keep driving online traffic, the company has been investing in boosting its digital capabilities even further. 

In March, Albertsons announced it formed a partnership with Google to make omnichannel shopping even easier and more convenient for millions of customers across the country, merging the grocer’s broad reach and retail know-how with the tech company’s capacity for customer-centric disruptive innovation.

The company forecasted that same-store sales would fall between 6% and 7.5% in 2021, but increase on a two-year stacked basis.

Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons operates 2,277 retail stores with 1,725 pharmacies, 400 associated fuel centers, 22 dedicated distribution centers and 20 manufacturing facilities. The company’s stores predominantly operate under the Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw’s, Star Market, United Supermarkets, Kings Food Markets and Haggen banners. Albertsons is No. 8 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America

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