Kroger Co. said Tuesday that SVP Robert "Pete" Williams would retire in May after 37 years with the company.

Williams leads seven supermarket divisions at Kroger. The company said his replacement would be named at a later date.


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Upon graduating from the University of Mississippi, Williams began his Kroger career in 1977 as a management trainee in Memphis, Tenn., with the company's Delta division. Beginning in 1978 he held a variety of human resources leadership roles, working his way up to serve as director of labor relations at the company's general office in 1987. He moved back to Atlanta three years later, where he spent the next several years serving as VP of operations and VP of merchandising, before being promoted to president of Kroger's Mid-Atlantic division in 1998. Williams has served in his current role since 2007.

"Throughout his extraordinary career, Pete's leadership has reflected his passion for our associates, customers and local communities. He has been a tremendous asset to our company and will be missed," Mike Ellis, Kroger's president and COO, said in a statement. "Whether developing associates and fostering career paths for many people within the company, or influencing Kroger to improve the customer experience, Pete led with a contagious enthusiasm and steady presence. We thank Pete for his many years of dedicated service and wish him and his wife, Jennifer, the very best in retirement."

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