QUINCY, Mass. - Marc Smith, the 52-year-old chief executive officer of Stop & Shop here, said last week he would retire as soon as a successor can be found.
Smith had been overseeing the integration of Stop & Shop with Ahold's sister chain, Giant Food of Landover, Md.
Especially given the recent struggles at those banners, some industry sources told SN that Smith had a tense relationship with Anders Moberg, president and CEO of Amsterdam-based Ahold, the parent company of Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover, but the company dismissed such talk.
"There have been suggestions of a falling out between Marc and Anders," said Ahold spokesman Nick Gale. "We can categorically deny it. There has been no falling out. This is an amicable situation."
He described Smith's decision to retire as a personal one and said his pending departure would not impact the company's strategic initiatives.
"There is a strong management team in place at Giant Landover and Stop & Shop," he said. "They will continue to take us forward with our strategic program. We don't think this will detract from management's day-to-day focus at all."
Ahold said Smith was expected to remain with the company for several months during the transition. Moberg will "take a direct role in managing the transition," the company said in a prepared statement.
Smith, who joined Stop & Shop in 1988, had been the CEO of the chain since 2000. He added responsibility for Giant-Landover in 2004 as the two chains began blending their back-office operations.
"The strength of Stop & Shop and Giant resides in its people," he said. "I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish together in the nearly two decades I have been part of the company."
He was not available for further comment.
Smith has "been instrumental in the development of Stop & Shop as a market leader, and as one of the cornerstones of Ahold," Moberg said in a statement. "By taking on the additional responsibility of integrating Giant, he has built a sound foundation for moving Giant forward. I respect his decision, and I wish him and his family the best of success for the future."
Despite the statements about Smith retiring, one executive recruiter said he expects Smith to be a sought-after leader.
"With Marc's reputation, his background and his history of performance, and with the things that are unfolding at Albertsons, his phone will be ringing," said Jose Tamez, managing partner, Austin-Michael Executive Search, San Antonio. "It's a question of where his non-compete agreement will allow him to go."