International retail conglomerate Delhaize Group has appointed Frans Muller as CEO, effective Nov. 8, replacing Pierre-Olivier Beckers, who will advise his successor until the end of the year and serve on the board of directors in a nonexecutive capacity thereafter. To ensure a smooth transition, Muller will join the company on Oct. 14, before beginning his new role.
With more than 15 years of senior leadership experience in retail, Muller brings a strong track record of managing complex, global organizations to his latest post. Most recently, he was a member of the management board of international retailer Metro AG, based in Dusseldorf, Germany, and CEO of Metro Cash & Carry, with responsibility for about 740 stores in 29 countries and sales of 31.6 billion euros. His extensive operational experience runs the gamut from supply chain management to procurement.
“Frans has the right mix of experience and skills to lead our company into the future,” noted Mats Jansson, chairman of the board of directors. “He brings a deep understanding of global food retailing and we are impressed by his international perspective, operational expertise and proven ability to grow businesses.”
Muller described Delhaize as “on track with its strategic priorities for the year and … focused on the areas that deliver the highest growth and returns,” while Beckers said of the new hire, “He has all the qualities to lead the company to the next level of its development.”
Brussels-based Delhaize also revealed that Roland Smith has resigned from his role as CEO of Salisbury, N.C.-based Delhaize America but will stay on as senior adviser to the CEO until the end of the year. Following Smith’s departure, the company’s U.S. operations will report to the Delhaize Group CEO.
The Charlotte Observer in North Carolina, noting that Smith spent less than a year in the CEO role, characterized his resignation as part of a "shakeup" at a financially troubled company. Delhaize America slashed 500 jobs and sold 155 Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid's stores to Bi-Lo in 2013, and closed 113 underperforming stores and shut down its Bloom banner in 2012.
“Our U.S. business continues to deliver positive results, and we have a solid foundation upon which to build,” observed Beckers. “There is a strong leadership team in place, and we look forward to further progress in the U.S.” He went on to praise Smith “for his significant contributions to the success of Delhaize America, particularly the energy and focus he brought to the business.”