MOBILE, Ala. -- Randy Delchamps has resigned as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Delchamps here after nearly six years in those positions and 30 years with the company.
Succeeding him as chairman will be David W. Morrow, 63, a director of the company and a former top executive at Pueblo Xtra International, Pompano Beach, Fla.; A&P, Montvale, N.J., and Albertson's, Boise, Idaho.
Morrow will also hold the titles of president and chief executive officer on an interim basis until a permanent successor is named -- possibly within 60 to 90 days, Morrow said in an interview with SN.
Morrow is the first executive from outside the Delchamps family to preside over the chain in its 74-year history. The transition takes place at a time when the chain is battling new competition from supercenters and conventional operators that have recently added units.
Randy Delchamps, 52, will assist the company in a consulting capacity during the transition period. According to Morrow, Randy Delchamps' resignation came "over a difference of opinion in the running of the company."
He declined to elaborate, and Randy Delchamps could not be reached for comment.
118 supermarkets in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, plus 12 liquor stores in Florida. Its 1994 volume was $1.07 billion.
Randy Delchamps was appointed president of the company in June 1989, and became chairman and chief executive officer four months later following the death of Fred Delchamps, his cousin, in a private plane crash. The chain was founded in 1921 by O.H. Delchamps Sr., Randy Delchamps' father; A.F. Delchamps Sr., Fred Delchamps' father; and Annie Delchamps Moore, sister of the other two founders.
Randy Delchamps' resignation was effective April 14, a day after a board of directors meeting at which terms of his severance agreement were worked out, Morrow told SN.
"Randy is a personal friend of mine, and he asked me to join the board last November because there were challenges from new competitors, particularly supercenters, and no supermarket guys on the board," Morrow said.
He said he was not aware of conflicts within the company or that he would ultimately become chairman.
"I wasn't looking for a full-time job and I don't want one," Morrow said. "But once Randy decided to resign, he asked me to take over. He said he'd rather have me running the company because I know more than the other directors about the supermarket business, and I agreed to do it.
"The only change I asked for, and got, was that the position of chairman be separated from president and CEO."
Morrow said he will be seeking a new president and CEO from outside the company.
He is hoping to find "a seasoned supermarket executive with some experience doing a CEO's job, even if he may not have had that title, someone who understands new-store development, finance, operations and marketing," Morrow told SN.
The new president will report to Morrow, he said, "so I can still give the company guidance without having to be here on a full-time basis.
"I don't want to run the day-to-day operations of another company, and taking over as CEO would require that I live in Mobile.
"I retired from Pueblo to take it easier, and I had planned to spend summers on a ranch in Idaho and winters at a home in San Juan, Puerto Rico."
Morrow was president and chief executive officer of Pueblo from 1984 through 1994 and chairman since 1991. He had been president of A&P from 1977 to 1982 and spent the previous 28 years with Albertson's, including holding the title of president in 1976 and 1977.
According to Morrow, the chain's most significant challenge is "the new competition that's come into this area in the past two or three years, particularly from Wal-Mart and Kmart supercenters, as well as additional units of Winn-Dixie and Bruno's and new Publix stores in Florida."
Delchamps opened a prototype store last April -- a 58,500-square-foot unit here "that Randy felt could serve as a laboratory to study what works and what doesn't work," Morrow pointed out.
The chain opened a 62,000-square-foot store in March in Biloxi, Miss.; a similarly sized unit is under construction in Mandeville, La., Morrow said.
"There's not room for too many stores of that size in this area, but we have an excellent store base that's been well kept up, with an average store size of 43,000 square feet and very few stores under 30,000 square feet.
"Over the last five years the company has built several stores of 50,000 square feet that are excellent," Morrow added.