Haggai to Step Down as IGA's Chief Exec

CHICAGO -- It's the end of an era. The board of IGA, Inc. here said yesterday that it would commence a search for a new c.e.o. with "fresh thinking," to replace long-time head Thomas S. Haggai, who will surrender the c.e.o. mantle once a new top executive is in place.

Haggai will become non-executive chairman at that point, the global supermarket network said. Board member Ron Marshall, who himself is set to retire from the position of c.e.o. at Nash Finch next March, will lead the search for a president and c.e.o. for IGA, using the firm of search firm Eastman and Beaudine.

Haggai, who joined the board in 1972, originally assumed the position of non-executive chairman in 1977, prior to becoming c.e.o. in 1986.

In a statement issued yesterday, Haggai offered positive words for the IGA board's decision to replace him. "It will allow me a freer schedule for what I enjoy most, and that is interfacing with our retailers," Haggai said. "From the moment I was asked to join the board in 1972, my basis of interest has not changed: The IGA family business must win at retail. Then and only then does the system work."

Haggai also said IGA's global growth will become a larger part of his work. "China has thrown open its door of welcome; Brazil will double its store count in November; new strategies are being designed for the countries of Southern Africa," Haggai said. "In fact, all of our countries are growing. Building on relationships I've developed for three decades, I will dedicate much of my time to the world where, at this moment, we have 66 percent of our stores."

Its growth overseas has not lately been matched by domestic growth, however. Said Haggai, "While we keep expanding and see hopeful signs here in the U.S. ... my fellow board members and I agree we need a c.e.o. with fresh thinking as we enter our 80th Anniversary."

Board member Drayton McLane, Jr. praised Haggai's hard work and dedication. "For almost 30 years, Tom has successfully developed the role of the independent retailer -- both in the United States and abroad -- by using his bold ideas and leadership while also developing the mission of IGA. In addition, he has become one of the most highly respected individuals in the industry throughout the world. We are greatly appreciative of Tom's accomplishments and are looking forward to his continued contributions during this transitional period."

IGA is the world's largest voluntary supermarket network with aggregate worldwide retail sales of more than $21 billion per year. The alliance includes more than 4,000 Hometown Proud Supermarkets worldwide, supported by 36 distribution companies and more than 55 major manufacturers, vendors, and suppliers encompassing everything from grocery to equipment items.

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