IRWINDALE, Calif. -- Hughes Family Markets here said last week that Fred B. McLaren has retired as president of the 56-store chain, effective yesterday.
McLaren, 62, had been president since 1974. No successor will be named.
McLaren was on vacation last week and could not be reached for comment.
Hughes is in the process of being acquired by Quality Food Centers, Bellevue, Wash., in a transaction expected to close later this week. It was not clear last week how McLaren's retirement was related to the pending acquisition.
Roger Hughes, chairman and chief executive officer, told SN he expects QFC to leave Hughes management in place when it completes its acquisition, "and when Fred told me he planned to retire, he didn't say if it was related to the merger," Hughes said.
An industry observer in southern California said McLaren's decision to retire was probably motivated by the merger. "He's run Hughes like his own company for a lot of years, and with the new ownership structure and $1 billion in debt, he felt it was time to do something else," the observer told SN.
Hughes said McLaren's decision to retire did not surprise him, "because he's indicated before that he was thinking about backing off a little bit."
He added he was not sure what McLaren intends to do next, "but he comes out very well financially in the deal."
McLaren has been with Hughes for 38 years, starting as a clerk in 1959. He progressed from store manager to district supervisor to labor-scheduling coordinator, and in 1968 he became director of operations. In 1972 McLaren was elected to the company's board of directors and was named president two years later.
Hughes said no successor will be named. "I'll just have to work a little harder," he noted.
Hughes said he will give up the title of chairman when the merger with QFC takes place, while retaining the title of CEO and adding that of president.
Besides his tenure at Hughes, McLaren was chairman and CEO of Santee Dairies, Los Angeles, and is a former director of the Food Marketing Institute.