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Article updated: 7/30/2012 10:53 AM

Supervalu fires CEO Herkert, names Sales to post

Craig Herkert

Craig Herkert

 
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By Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jewel-Osco's parent copany Supervalu is ousting CEO Craig Herkert as the grocery chain looks to right its business only weeks after reporting disappointing quarterly results and suggesting it might put itself up for sale.

Chairman Wayne Sales was named Monday to take on the additional roles of president and CEO.

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Supervalu had brought in Herkert, a former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive, in 2009 to help shake things up. The grocer subsequently put a heavier emphasis on lower prices and tried to position itself as a neighborhood store to draw new shoppers and keep customers.

Earlier this month, the Minneapolis company reported that both its first-quarter net income and revenue slid and it suspended its dividend.

Supervalu was still feeling the pressure from competitors and the company announced that it would cut prices further. The grocer also said earlier this month that it planned to trim its administrative and operational expenses over the next two years and cut its capital spending.

The company had said it and and its financial advisers will review various options. While the supermarket operator did not elaborate, this type of review traditionally includes the possibility of selling the company.

Sales, 62, has been a board member since 2006. He is the retired vice chairman of Canadian Tire Corp. and was its president and CEO from 2000 to 2006. Sales previously served in various roles at Kmart Corp.'s U.S. division.

The cost savings efforts, coupled with a focus on improving its financials and becoming more competitive, appear to be tops on Sales' agenda.

"We will take significant cost out of the business, and move with urgency in our retail food business to lower prices and create points of sustainable differentiation for our customers," Sales said in a statement.

He added that Supervalu is still reviewing its strategic options and that he will continue to lead that process.

Supervalu also named board member Philip Francis, 65, as lead director on Monday.

Sales plans to retire from his board posts at Georgia Gulf Corp. and aviation company Discovery Air Inc. so that he can concentrate on his roles at Supervalu.

Supervalu's shares fell 3 cents to $1.96 in morning trading.

The company has about 4,400 stores in the U.S.

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