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PLEASANTON, Calif. — Analysts said Safeway here “has some big shoes to fill” in the wake of last week’s announcement that longtime Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Burd plans to retire in May.
“Burd’s departure is, potentially, a significant loss for the company,” said John Heinbockel, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities, New York. “We rarely make this statement about a CEO, but Mr. Burd is unique for his longevity [20 years], attention to detail and forceful personality. Perhaps no non-apparel retailing CEO has put his stamp on a company to the same degree that he has.”
Safeway said Burd, 63, plans to step down at the company’s annual meeting on May 14. He is also retiring as director. Burd had relinquished the president post in 2012.
The company’s board of directors will begin a search for a successor, and will consider both internal and external candidates for the job. Safeway also said Burd will help with the search and will continue to assist the company after he transitions out of his leadership posts.
“I feel this is the right time to move forward with a transition plan,” said Burd in a prepared release. “The company is gaining market share with each passing quarter. We have developed the most sophisticated digital marketing platform in retail, we are implementing the most comprehensive and personalized fuel loyalty program, and we will be rolling out a wellness initiative that has the potential to transform the company.
“While I still have the high level of energy and enthusiasm I brought to the company 20 years ago,” he added, “I need more personal time and, given my extensive work in health care, I want to pursue that interest further.”