Kroger Makes Big Executive Moves

As it rolls out its ambitious Restock Kroger Plan, The Kroger Co. has revealed some momentous leadership changes.

First, on Nov. 30, Fred Morganthall, the company’s EVP of retail operations, will retire after 31 years at Kroger and 44 in the food industry.

“There are few people in our industry as widely respected as Fred,” said Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of Cincinnati-based Kroger. “He worked tirelessly to establish the Harris Teeter brand and, after our merger, to help position Kroger for future success. We’ve all benefited from Fred’s passion for grocery retail and operational excellence. We are grateful for Fred’s distinguished service and many contributions to Kroger and Harris Teeter, and we wish him and his family all the best.”

Morganthall began his career at Procter & Gamble in 1973, but in 1978 he took a job at Spartan Stores in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he oversaw grocery, frozen and dairy purchasing, in addition to general merchandise and beauty care. In 1986, he joined Harris Teeter as director of grocery merchandising and ultimately held a range of executive management positions, among them VP of merchandising, VP of distribution and VP of operations, before becoming president in 1997. Following the 2013 merger of Kroger and Harris Teeter, Morganthall became Kroger's SVP in June 2015 and rose to his current role, EVP of retail operations, in September of that year. He has served as chair of Food Marketing Institute and in 2016 received that organization’s Sidney R. Rabb Award.

EVP of Merchandising Mike Donnelly will take on responsibility for both operations and merchandising as EVP and COO, effective Nov. 1

“Mike and his team will help us redefine the food and grocery experience for customers and drive sales,” said McMullen. “By bringing merchandising and operations together under Mike’s leadership, we will build synergies between our teams and accelerate our efforts to establish a truly seamless customer experience.”

Having started out at Fry’s Food Stores in California in 1978, Donnelly rose to several leadership roles at the banner, including district management. He became Fry’s VP of merchandising in 1995 and then president of the Fry’s division five years later. Donnelly was Kroger’s SVP of drug/GM, president of the company’s Ralphs division, and SVP of merchandising before being named to his current role in 2015.

Meanwhile, Kroger’s key lines of business will continue to be headed by the three EVPs who are driving execution of Restock Kroger: Donnelly, EVP and CFO Mike Schlotman, and EVP and CIO Chris Hjelm.

“Kroger is fortunate to have a leadership team that combines deep experience with creative new talent as we strategically reposition the company through our Restock Kroger Plan,” noted McMullen.

Kroger operates 2,793 retail food stores under a variety of local banners in 35 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a growing ClickList offering – a personalized online ordering service – and 2,258 pharmacies, 783 convenience stores, 307 fine-jewelry stores, 222 retail health clinics, 1,472 supermarket fuel centers and 38 food production plants.