Two supermarket companies went outside the box during 2001 in search of new top executives to extricate them from tenuous financial positions. One was Albertson's, the Boise, Idaho-based giant that found its new chairman and chief executive officer in the appliances business when it hired Lawrence R. Johnston to succeed Gary Michael in April. Michael, a 35-year veteran of Albertson's who had served for 10 years as CEO, said late in 2000 he would retire, and he did so -- very quietly -- ...

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