CINCINNATI, Ohio — Kroger Co. here on Friday said that longtime Chief Executive Officer David Dillon would retire as CEO effective Jan. 1, 2014.Kroger Chairman and CEO David Dillon

Dillon, 62, a 37-year Kroger veteran who has strengthened the company’s dominance as the largest traditional supermarket chain with its “Customer 1st” approach, will continue to serve as chairman of board through Dec. 31, 2014. He had been CEO since 2003.

Succeeding him as CEO will be W. Rodney McMullen, 53, Kroger’s president and chief operating officer. McMullen joined Kroger in 1978 on a part-time basis on a stock crew and has been president and COO since 2009 and a director since 2003. He previously held a variety of senior management positions, including vice chairman; executive vice president of strategy, planning, and finance; and chief financial officer.

Sign up here for SN’s free daily e-newsletter

“As Kroger implements its strategic growth initiatives, the time is right for the transition of leadership,” Dillon said in a statement. “I am delighted that the board has elected Rodney McMullen to succeed me. Rodney has played a leadership role in every major decision Kroger has made for the past 25 years, including the development and implementation of Kroger’s Customer 1st approach as well as our current growth strategy. He is ready to be CEO. I have been honored to lead this great company for over 10 years and look forward to assisting Rodney and the board in the transition while continuing to serve as chairman.”


CONNECT WITH SN ON LINKEDIN

Join SN's LinkedIn Group to network with industry professionals.


Robert D. Beyer, Kroger’s lead director, said, “On behalf of the board, I thank Dave Dillon for an extraordinary job as CEO and throughout his distinguished career at Kroger. Under his leadership, the company has consistently delivered value for shareholders, customers, and associates. The Board has planned carefully for this leadership succession. We are confident Kroger will continue its growth momentum during the transition and under Rodney McMullen’s leadership. Rodney has the right skills and experience to build on Dave’s accomplishments and leverage Kroger’s strong platform in the years ahead.”

McMullen’s successor will be named at a later date.

Some highlights from David Dillon’s bio:

• Great-grandson of Dillons Co. founder J.S. Dillon.

• Joined Hutchinson, Kan.-based Dillons as a management trainee in 1976 with its King Soopers division in Denver.

• After Dillon Cos. and Kroger merged in 1983, Dillon was VP from 1983 to 1986, then president from 1986-1995. Named EVP of Kroger Co. in 1990.

• Named president and COO of Kroger in 1995.

• Named CEO in 2003, and elected chairman of the board in 2004.

Read more: Kroger CEO Succession Seen as 'Smooth'

Some highlights from Rodney McMullen’s bio:

• Began working as a part-time stock clerk at a Kroger in Lexington, Ky., in 1978, while attending the University of Kentucky. After graduating in 1982, he worked at a Kroger division office in Charlotte, N.C.

• Became a financial analyst at Kroger’s headquarters in Cincinnati in 1986, and played a “pivotal role” in the company’s 1988 restructuring.

• Named CFO of Kroger in 1995.

• Led the integration of Kroger’s $13 billion merger with Fred Meyer Inc. in 1999.

• Named vice chairman of the board in in 2003, and president and COO in 2009.

Suggested Categories More from Supermarketnews