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01/30/2020

Former Supervalu CEO Michael Wright Dead at 81

Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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Former Supervalu CEO Michael Wright Dead at 81
During Michael Wright's two-decade stint as CEO of wholesaler/grocer Supervalu, Cub Foods was the company's lead supermarket banner

Michael Wright, who was the CEO of Minneapolis-based Supervalu during the 1980s and 1990s, when it became the largest grocery wholesaler in the United States, died Jan. 27 at his home in Wayzata, Minn., according to published reports. The cause of death was given as complications of pneumonia. He was 81.

While playing pro football with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Wright went to law school on an ROTC scholarship, graduating in 1963, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. After serving in the Army to fulfill his ROTC commitment, Wright worked at the Minneapolis law firm Dorsey & Whitney, where one of his clients was Supervalu, which hired him as CEO in 1981.

During his tenure at the helm, which lasted until 2000, although he remained chairman until his retirement from that position two years later, Wright shepherded multiple acquisitions, including of St. Louis-based wholesaler Wetterau Inc. in 1992, that made Supervalu into the nation’s largest food distributor at that time and the 10th-largest retail grocer, with Stillwater, Minn.-based Cub Foods as its lead banner.

In 2018, Supervalu was itself acquired by Providence, R.I.-based United Natural Foods Inc.

An All-America high school athlete in football and basketball, he played both sports at the University of Minnesota and became captain of the Gophers football team in 1959.

Wright’s survivors include his son Adam, a Minneapolis businessman.

Services will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.

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