PORTLAND, Ore. -- United Grocers here named T.W. (Terry) Olsen president and chief executive officer last week.
The company also reported net income of $19.8 million on sales of $1.2 billion for the year ended Oct. 2, 1998. This compares with a net loss for the previous fiscal year. Olsen, previously executive vice president and chief operating officer, succeeds Charles Carlbom, who remains with the company as senior executive for mergers and acquisitions, the company said. Olsen praised Carlbom, telling SN "he did a wonderful job turning the company around" and that he plans to "continue the progressive programs Chuck Carlbom established."
As previously reported in SN, Carlbom had retired in 1997 from his post as president and CEO of Western Family Foods here, a supplier of private-label products to United Grocers. He performed some consulting work for UG before coming out of retirement as a temporary leader for the company while it conducted a search for a permanent CEO.
Among Olsen's plans for UG, a retailer-owned food cooperative with more than 400 members that serves more than 1,200 supermarkets in Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Idaho, is a possible merger with Associated Grocers, Seattle. Initiated in 1997, talks between the two co-ops have not yielded an agreement. However, "That is still being explored," Olsen told SN.
Asked about mergers or joint ventures involving any other companies, he said, "United Grocers remains very open to discussions to creating synergies that in reality lower costs to our retailers."
Other goals, according to Olsen, are "continuing to build a competitive staff along with a re-emphasis on customer relations. We need to keep communications open with them and keep them more informed and more involved in what we're doing."
He said the co-op was able to turn a profit partly because it lowered its debt structure and "We're going to keep working hard in 1999 to lower the cost of business." To that end, Olsen said, he seeks "improved procurement methods." Also, "We're going to look at increasing overall productivity by both labor and management," he said.
As the company continues to strive for increased sales and earnings, "obviously there will be some changes" among the executive ranks, Olsen said. He declined to speculate, saying, "We're not ready to announce anything yet."