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Kroger Reveals Executive Changes

CINCINNATI - The Kroger Co. has undergone a series of executive changes, including the retirement of 40-year company veteran Robert E. Zincke, e.v.p. of merchandising strategy, and the appointment of Mark Prestidge to v.p. of operations for Kroger's Houston-based Southwest Division.

Zincke, who will retire Oct. 31, joined Kroger as a management trainee in 1964. From 1990 to 2002 he served as president of Kroger's Southwest Division, which at the time operated 212 stores in Texas and Louisiana. In 2002 Zincke was named a corporate s.v.p. and relocated to Cincinnati to oversee several retail divisions. Last year he was promoted to his current position.

"Bob has been an exceptional officer of the company. We are grateful for his dedication, expertise, and integrity," Kroger chairman and c.e.o. David B. Dillon said in a statement.

Prestidge, who brings more than 21 years of retail leadership experience to Kroger from Randall's/Safeway Food Markets in Houston, succeeds Steve Young, who was recently named v.p. of retail process change for Kroger. Prestidge formerly served as president of Tom Thumb, a division of Randall's, for five years and also held various divisional, district, and store management positions with Randall's.

"Mark is a talented leader with a track record of proven results, and we are delighted that he will be joining our team," said Bill Breetz, president of Kroger's Southwest division, which operates 218 stores in Texas and Louisiana.

Kroger also announced the promotion of five veteran executives to key management positions within the company:

-- Donald E. Becker has been promoted to e.v.p. and assumes responsibility for Kroger's overall merchandising. For the past four years he has served as s.v.p., overseeing six retail operating divisions. Prior to that, Becker spent four years as president of Kroger's Central division, based in Indianapolis. He began his Kroger career in 1969 as a store clerk in Cincinnati.

-- Paul Scutt has been promoted to s.v.p. Previously he was group v.p. of retail operations, and will continue to be responsible for identifying and coordinating "best practices" to improve the operating efficiency of the company's more than 2,500 retail stores, as well as store productivity, shrink, and worker safety. Scutt, who has 39 years of food retailing experience, also served as president of Kroger's Central Division, based in Indianapolis, for two years.

-- John Burgon has been promoted to s.v.p. and is now responsible for five operating divisions. For the past three years Burgon has served as president of Ralph's Grocery Co. in Southern California. Prior to that, he spent four years as president of King Soopers in Denver. He began his retail career with King Soopers in 1973 as a produce clerk. He later held a variety of upper-level management positions within several Kroger divisions, including e.v.p. of Fry's and later v.p. of Dillon Cos. Burgon will be based in Kroger's corporate office in Cincinnati, and is expected to be elected an officer of the company by Kroger's board of directors.

-- Dave Hirz has been promoted to president of Ralph's Grocery Co. Hirz has been president of Food 4 Less, the company's price-impact warehouse division, since 1999. Prior to that, he served as group v.p. of operations. He joined Food 4 Less in 1991. Before that, Hirz held leadership positions with the Boys Markets from 1985 to 1991, including store director, district manager, and manager of store operations and administration. He began his supermarket industry career in 1971 as a courtesy clerk with Fisher-Fazio Markets in Cleveland. A successor to Mr. Hirz at Food 4 Less will be named at a later date.

-- Mike Ellis has been promoted to group v.p. of grocery, drug/general merchandise and pharmacy merchandising, procurement, and advertising. For the past five years he has served as s.v.p., food group, for Fred Meyer Stores, a division of Kroger based in Portland, Ore. He joined Fred Meyer in 1975 as a parcel clerk, and has served in several grocery merchandising and management positions during his career. In 1994 he was named v.p., grocery merchandiser. Four years later he was promoted to group v.p. at Fred Meyer. Ellis will be based in Cincinnati, and is also expected to be elected an officer of the company by Kroger's board.

"These talented executives bring a wide variety of retail operations and marketing experience to their new posts," said Kroger president and c.o.o. Don McGeorge. "Each has established an impressive record of achievement at our divisions."
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