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Specialty grocery retailer promotes exec to lead merchandising team

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The Fresh Market has a new merchandising chief.

The specialty grocery retailer has appointed Rich Durante as chief merchandising officer. Durante will oversee all of retailer’s buying activities, and develop strategic purchasing plans for merchandising, product innovation and product quality throughout all stores.

He was previously executive VP of Midwest and Southeast merchandising for company, responsible for merchandising departments and private label programs within these regions. However, that is just a small piece of Durante’s more than 39-year tenure in the grocery industry.

Prior to joining The Fresh Market, Durante was president and COO of AG Supermarket Holdings, which operates Kings Food Markets, Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market, and Balducci’s On the Go Café. He has also held roles of increasing responsibility at Kings Super Markets, where he successfully led merchandising, operations, marketing and engineering teams.

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Fred’s is on the hunt for a new CEO

BY David Salazar

Less than two years on the job, Fred’s CEO has stepped down.

Mike Bloom officially resigned as CEO of Fred’s, effective April 24. The Memphis-based company said it has appointed CFO Joseph Anto to the position of interim CEO. Fred’s said Bloom’s departure, which included his resignation from the board of directors, was to pursue other opportunities and not due to a disagreement with the company or its operations.

Bloom’s resignation comes as it seeks to sell its specialty pharmacy business — a decision that has delayed the company’s full-year and fourth quarter results — originally set to take place April 19 — until May 4 for accounting purposes.

Mike Bloom“The board is appreciative for Mike’s contributions, dedication and service,” Fred’s chairman Heath Freeman said. “Mike joined Fred’s with significant experience with retail drugstores. After the company was not able to purchase certain assets from the Rite Aid Corporation and following the end of the 2017 fiscal year, the timing was right, both for Mike and the company, for him to step down. We wish him the very best.”

Anto has been CFO at Fred’s for roughly two months, joining the company in February following a roughly eight-month stint as a consultant for the company that began in July 2017. For three years, Anto was senior vice president of strategy and mergers and acquisitions at MediaNews Group. He had previously been MediaNews Group’s VP of business development and CEO at Jobs in the US.com, a MediaNews Group subsidiary. His previous experience also includes investment banking and venture capital.

“The Fred’s board is confident that Mr. Anto will serve the company well as interim CEO,” Freeman said.

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Albertsons has a new marketing leader

BY Michael Johnsen

Albertsons has made an executive promotion that to grow the company’s innovation efforts and brand expertise.

Sean Barrett has been named senior VP of advertising and marketing, effective April 30. He will work out of the Boise, Idaho corporate campus.

Barrett previously held the position of group VP innovation, product and brands on the company’s Own Brands team. In this role, he oversaw innovation efforts across Albertsons’ various private label brands.

“Sean’s depth of expertise in retail makes him the ideal leader to take on this new role,” Shane Sampson, chief marketing and merchandising officer, said. “In his prior role with our own brands team, Sean led the rebranding and integration of our popular brands like O Organics, Open Nature and Signature across the enterprise. Sean also helped to drive innovation in our product development, ensuring shoppers constantly have new and exciting products to find in our stores. I’m excited to have a leader of his caliber to run our advertising and marketing efforts.”

Before Barrett engineered product success through Albertsons’ own brands team, he worked as chief marketing officer of the Procter & Gamble/Whirlpool joint venture. Barrett also has prior experience working for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products, and in the financial services industry for SEI Investments.

Barrett joined Albertsons Companies in April 2015 from P&G. Following the merger between Albertsons and Safeway, he helped integrate own brands into all Albertsons stores and has been at the forefront of the team’s innovation efforts.

Albertsons plans to introduce more than 450 new O Organics products and more than 240 new Open Nature products in 2018, with additional product releases planned across its portfolio of brands throughout the year.

Barrett’s new role is effective April 30 and he will operate out of the Boise, Idaho corporate campus. Barrett has a BA in Economics and Computer Science from Boston College and an MBA from London Business School.

Albertsons is currently in the process of planning the integration of Rite Aid with the recent expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 in March. That milestone satisfied one of the conditions to the closing of the merger, which remains subject to other customary closing conditions, including the approval of Rite Aid’s stockholders.

With the Albertsons-Rite Aid merger, originally announced in February, the combined operation is poised to become the No. 4 retail pharmacy operator in terms of pharmacy sales.

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