New President and C.O.O to 'Maintain Traditions' at Stater Bros.

COLTON, Calif. - Stater Bros. Markets has named industry veteran Jim Lee president and c.o.o., and he is expected to preserve the 70-year-old retailer's legacy of delivering value for its shoppers, chairman and c.e.o. Jack H. Brown told Progressive Grocer.

A member of the Stater Bros. senior executive team for the last four years, Lee joined the chain as group s.v.p. of retail operations. Before this latest promotion, he was e.v.p. of retail operations and administration, a position he was appointed to last year.

Brown said that Lee, who earlier in his career filled senior executive roles at Wild Oats and Ralphs, would "maintain the traditions" of the venerable but "fast-growth" Stater Bros., including its tried-and-true merchandising strategies such as providing customers with the lowest prices on name brand and quality items.

Brown also said, however, that Lee would "bring some innovations" to Stater Bros. that would align with its legacy. When asked what form those innovations might take, Brown said one example is that his company is "looking at" upgrading its front end sections electronically, although he offered no specifics.

Before joining Stater Bros., Lee was president and c.o.o. of Austin, Texas-based Wild Oats Markets, from 1996 to 2001. Prior to that, he spent 25 years with Ralphs Grocery Co. in Compton, Calif., where he held various management positions, among them store manager, district manager, v.p. of store operations-administration, v.p. store operations (Northern Division and Southern Division), and group v.p. of the Central Division.

Lee serves on the Board of the Western Association of Food Chains as v.p. and education chairman. Additionally, he's a member of the board of trustees of the California Grocers Association (CGA) Educational Foundation.

Stater Bros., the largest privately owned supermarket chain in California and the largest private employer in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, also owns and operates Heartland Farms, provider of Knudsen Dairy products to Southern California. The company operates 162 supermarkets and employs over 17,000 associates.
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