In a memo circulated on Friday, Roland Smith, the new president/CEO of Salisbury, North Carolina-based Delhaize America, laid out his vision of the company's organizational structure, and shared with members of the company the evolving structure of what is being called the Delhaize America Leadership Team (DALT). "In the summer of 2012," Smith writes, "Delhaize America initiated a Strategic Cost Program in an effort to significantly reduce SG&A costs. The intent was to bring the ratio of SG&A to revenue in line with market standards and reinvest those savings in our banners to improve our customers’ experience and drive revenue. Despite best intentions and efforts, our cost-saving targets were not achieved.
"Accordingly, over the past six weeks, the DALT has worked diligently to build a DA Officer structure that is both effective at achieving our goals and as efficient as possible. Through intensive workshops and significant collaboration, each DALT member has worked to develop the structures and teams they need in order to serve their customers, grow our businesses, and create shareholder value.
"Our new structure includes 50 Officers, which represents almost a 25 percent reduction, and is a balance of position creation, position elimination, and some positions remaining the same. The following Officers were carefully selected for their roles, whether the position is new or represents continuity."
The follow DALT structure is said to be effective immediately:
Strategy and Development: Reporting to Chief Strategy and Development Officer David Criscione, located in Salisbury...
• David Hilse, Vice President, Strategy, Delhaize America, located in Salisbury.
• Kyle Mitchell, Vice President, Store Development, Delhaize America, located in Salisbury.
Finance: Reporting to Chief Financial Officer Greg Amoroso, located in Salisbury...
• Tom Kelly, Vice President, Controller, Delhaize America, located in Salisbury.
• Lionel Desclee, Vice President, Finance, Delhaize America, located in Salisbury.
Supply Chain: Reporting to Chief Supply Chain Officer Mike Vail, located in Salisbury...
• Tod Pepin, Senior Vice President, Center Store Merchandising, Delhaize America, located in Salisbury.
• Tim Jacques, Vice President, Center Store Merchandising, Delhaize America, will report to Tod and will be located in Salisbury.
• Geoff Waldau, Senior Vice President, Fresh Merchandising, Delhaize America, located in Salisbury.
• Mark Messier, Vice President, Fresh Merchandising, will report to Geoff and be located in Salisbury.
• Chris Lewis, Vice President, Supply Chain Services and Solutions, Delhaize America, located in Scarborough.
• Gerry Greenleaf, Vice President, Distribution and Transportation, Delhaize America, located in Scarborough.
• Attila Akat, Senior Vice President, Our Brands, Delhaize America, is joining the organization and will be located in Salisbury.
• Mike Cantrell, Vice President, Pharmacy, Delhaize America, recently joined the organization and is located in Scarborough.
Food Lion, Harveys and Reid’s: Reporting to President Beth Newlands Campbell, located in Salisbury...
• JJ Fleeman, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, Food Lion, located in Salisbury.
• Karen Fernald, Senior Vice President, Merchandising, Food Lion, located in Salisbury.
Hannaford and Sweetbay: Reporting to President Brad Wise, located in Scarborough...
• Peter Forester, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, Hannaford and Sweetbay, located in Scarborough.
• Rick Meyerkopf, Vice President, Merchandising, Hannaford and Sweetbay, located in Scarborough.
• Mary Wright, Vice President, Marketing, Hannaford and Sweetbay, located in Scarborough.
• Bob Schools, Senior Vice President, Retail Operations, Hannaford, located in Scarborough.
Bottom Dollar Food: Reporting to President Meg Ham, located in Salisbury...
• Gene Faller, Vice President, Retail Operations, Bottom Dollar Food, located in Salisbury.
• Jason Wilson, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, Bottom Dollar Food, located in Salisbury.
• Hans Lefebvre, Vice President, Merchandising, Bottom Dollar Food, located in Salisbury
Information Technology/Info Security: Reporting to Chief Information Officer Deb Dixson, located in Salisbury...
• Odile Ducatez, Vice President, Global IT Business Office, Delhaize America, located in Salisbury.
• Nathalie Haddad, Vice President, Solutions Delivery, Delhaize America, located in Salisbury.
• Eric Norden, Vice President, Global IT Infrastructure, Delhaize America, located in Salisbury.
John Kirkwood, Vice President, Chief Information Security Officer, Delhaize Group, located in Salisbury.
Human Resources is a category where the new person in charge has not yet been named, though it has been determined that whoever holds the office will be "located in Salisbury." Smith writes, "As I mentioned in my last message, we are conducting a search for a new Chief People Officer. We have made progress with recruitment, but have yet to make a final decision. In the meantime, Hannaford and Sweetbay President Brad Wise will serve the organization in both his new position and his previous role as Senior Vice President of Human Resources."
Smith also used the memo to take note of the "departure of many longtime, well-respected leaders" from the company, including Pete Bonneau, Vice President, Center Store Merchandising, Delhaize America; Mike Brooks, Vice President, Strategy, Delhaize America; Jim Corby, Vice President, Produce Merchandising, Delhaize America; Steve Culver, Vice President, Government Relations – Northeast, Delhaize America; James Egan, Senior Vice President, Retail Operations, Food Lion; Kristen Hanson, Vice President, Our Brands, Delhaize America; Mike Harris, Vice President, Risk Management, Delhaize America; Lisa Miller, Vice President, Sustainability, Delhaize America; Kyle Price, Vice President, Produce Merchandising, Food Lion; T.R. Robinson, Senior Vice President, Merchandising, Food Lion, and Lisa Toner, Vice President, Legal Affairs, Delhaize America."
In the memo, Smith wrote about the internal group looking to develop what is being called a "Delhaize America Vision," which he said "is meant to support, not replace, the Delhaize Group Vision. We have also made significant progress in reducing hundreds of previous 'priorities' into 12 to 15 clearly defined critical priorities on which we will focus our full resources on achieving in 2013. I look forward to sharing our new Vision, operating principles, and critical priorities with you in the near future."
Finally, Smith wrote: "In my last message, I relayed that my intent was to relocate my team of direct reports and a select group of key leaders to Salisbury and explore consolidating Support Services in late 2013 or early 2014. After completing the moves contemplated in this announcement, approximately 80 percent of Delhaize America Officers will be located in North Carolina.
"After additional analysis and review with the DALT, I now believe that further consolidation of Support Services would result in unnecessary loss of critical talent. Accordingly, our plan is to assess the success of our new structure before making any decisions regarding consolidation.
"To be clear, beyond the relocation contemplated in this announcement, if our new structure is effective in accomplishing our goals, we will not consolidate all of Support Services in Salisbury. However, if a current associate leaves Delhaize America, we will carefully consider the optimal location for his or her position before hiring a replacement."
I've posted so much of the memo for a reason. For one thing, I wasn't sure I could do justice to the emotional kick to the heart and stomach of many people at Delhaize that the memo delivered, and I thought that rather than paraphrasing, it made sense to just hit you with the highlights. (There's more. I just tried to pick off the big stuff.)
I want to be clear here. I am not saying that Smith, who has been with Delhaize just since September, and who comes to the company from Wendy's/Arby's, is wrong or misguided in his approach. Hell, while this is being by some within the organization as a take-no-prisoners approach to leadership, and that while much of the tumult is based in Salisbury, the management style would be more appropriate to the burning of Atlanta, which is less than 300 miles to the southwest.
I'm not saying that because sometimes - as in the case of JC Penney, for example - radical change is called for. Only time will tell if the kind of changes being instigated by Smith make Delhaize a better, more responsive and more relevant retailer. If he's right, it will be kudos all around. If he's wrong, I have no idea whether the company would be able to repair the damage.
I do know this. While I am not seeing emails from people like those, for example, that I've gotten from people who worked at places like Supervalu and A&P, I am getting the sense of pervasive organizational disquiet. There's a feeling in the air that everybody's head can be placed on the chopping block, and I also get the impression that there may be some level of paranoia at Delhaize. Go figure. (I suspect that there were more than a few stiff drinks poured on Friday after folks got that memo.)
On the one hand, people don't always perform well if they are paranoid about their ability to survive in the workplace. However, I think people do feel better about a company that they feel has a strong captain at the helm with an excellent sense of direction. (As long as he doesn't steer them into an iceberg, of course. The captain of the Titanic, as it happens, also was named Smith - Edward Smith. I have no idea of there is any family connection.)
I also think that there may be some skepticism about the Salisbury-centric culture that is being imposed on the company. (Some are seeing a subtext in the Smith memo that he is a little grudging about not moving everyone to Salisbury.)
About this, I think Delhaize has to be exceedingly careful - supermarket chains can rise and fall based on their ability to serve and reflect communities. They are not like fast food restaurants, which thrive on homogenization. Hannaford, Food Lion, Bottom Dollar, Sweetbay - these are all very different chains, serving different communities, and exhibiting, at least to this point, very different kinds of character. While efficiencies can be found, effectiveness won't necessarily always come with a 28145 zip code.
I'm sure that strong leaders like Beth Newlands Campbell, Mike Vail and Meg Hamm know this. They sure as hell don't need me to tell them.
But stating things like this is what I do. There are a lot of moving parts here, and the complete puzzle has not yet been assembled. It is important, though, to keep in mind what Ernest Hemingway once said: "Never confuse movement with action."