The Kroger Co. has promoted Laura Gump, formerly VP of merchandising for the Houston division, to president.
She succeeds Joe Kelley who was recently named president of King Soopers.
"Laura has tremendous experience in the grocery and retail industries," said Valerie Jabbar, Kroger's SVP of retail operations. "Her ability to build high-performing teams will ensure our Houston division continues to deliver the freshest foods and a friendly and welcoming experience for our customers, whether shopping in store or online."
Gump has over 34 years of grocery retailing experience. Prior to joining Kroger in 2020, she spent most of her grocery industry career with the H-E-B Grocery Co., starting her career managing stores before being promoted to district manager, regional VP, and later to group VP. In each role, she experienced success in leading and developing teams, resulting in strong engagement and results.
"I am thrilled to take on the role of division president and bring a new perspective to how we will provide an exceptional shopping experience for our customers, an engaged and uplifting culture for our associates, and support to the communities we serve," said Gump. "My goal is to continue expanding Kroger's reach and impact and diversify our ever-growing selection of fresh food to fulfill our promise of being Fresh for Everyone."
Gump currently serves as the president of Women's Edge, a group dedicated to the promotion and mentorship of women in leadership at Kroger, as well as sitting on the board of directors for Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston. She is a past board member of Teach for America and has received accolades for her efforts to elevate diversity within the retail industry.
In other Kroger news, The Wall Street Journal reported on Dec. 14 that the retailer is eliminating some COVID-19 benefits for unvaccinated employees. Kroger told employees last week that it will no longer provide two weeks of paid emergency leave for unvaccinated employees who contract COVID-19, unless local jurisdictions require otherwise. Kroger will also add a $50 monthly surcharge to company health plans for unvaccinated managers and other nonunion employees, according to a memo viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Both policies are effective Jan. 1, the memo said.
A Kroger spokeswoman told the Journal that the company is modifying policies to encourage safe behaviors as it prepares to navigate the next phase of the pandemic, and that the changes are designed to create a healthier workplace and workforce. She said the company considered feedback from employees and customers to guide its policies, and that Kroger will continue to encourage sick employees to stay home and seek the support of a physician if they contract the coronavirus.