SEATTLE -- Associated Grocers here said it has named Robert Hoyt interim chief executive officer. Hoyt, a consultant whose firm specializes in corporate revitalization, will succeed Art Jones, who said he would retire this fall.
In an interview with SN last week, Hoyt said he would attempt to refocus the retailer-owned cooperative, which he said had "gotten away from core competencies" and become "stodgy" in recent years. Hoyt's firm, Partners for Corporate Renewal, specializes in leading companies through periods of transition and in formulating management and financial strategies.
Hoyt began as interim CEO early this month, he said.
"We have gotten away from our competency, which is getting groceries to retailers efficiently and at the lowest price," Hoyt said. "Some of our problems resulted from overexpanding ourselves with some marginal retailers. We're dealing with that problem now."
Hoyt also said he would hire new officers, and would consider a potential sale or merger of the company.
"There has been a lot of consolidation going on in our industry. We have outsourced and partnered with a number of different companies and will continue to look at that actively," Hoyt said. "If it drives efficiency and is good for the company shareholders, that's what we will do."
Hoyt said the company, which did about $1 billion in sales last year, serves "a lot of great operators" and boasts sophisticated warehouse facilities in Seattle and Kent, Wash.
Associated Grocers was founded in 1934 by 11 independent grocers in the Seattle area. Associated today serves around 400 independent grocers throughout Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the Pacific Rim.
In a memo to Associated customers and employees, Craig Cole, Associated's chairman, said outgoing CEO Jones had "stepped into the presidency of AG during a very challenging period of transition and has performed with unusual devotion." The company has seen the retirement of several longtime executives over the last year.