Published on: November 2, 2009Raley’s president/CEO William Coyne announced on Friday his resignation from the California chain, effective immediately.
In a written communication to employees, Coyne said, “"I want to assure you that this is a personal decision that I feel is right for me and my family. I'll be monitoring your success from the sidelines, and cheering you on every step of the way."
There was no other explanation from the company, and according to the Sacramento Bee, Coyne was not available for further comment.
By way of context, the
“Coyne took the helm of the region's dominant grocery chain during a time of acquisition and divestment that produced varied results. In 1998, the company bought Nob Hill Foods, gaining 27 stores in the Bay Area ... Under Coyne's stewardship, the store moved into an online shopping service and opened Aisle 1, the store's full-service gasoline stations.”
Raley’s said that Coyne’s responsibilities will be taken over on an interim basis by COO Dave Clark, described as “a grocery industry veteran with more than 30 years of experience, including chains in other states.” The company’s board of directors will determine the parameters of a search this week, according to the Bee story.
- KC's View:
- The timing is interesting - it was just within the last two weeks that A&P dismissed its CEO, Eric Claus. While Raley’s and A&P are very different companies, they both are essentially family-controlled regional supermarket chains. And one has to wonder about how, in the current economic environment, pressures are being ratcheted up on CEOs by impatient ownerships to deliver what may be unreasonable results at this point in time.
I do know this about Bill Coyne - almost four years ago, at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Midwinter Executive Conference in Arizona, he delivered one of the best speeches that I’ve ever heard at that forum. Here’s how I reported it at the time:
“Why does a company like Raley’s matter?” he asked, noting that his is a far smaller company than many of those represented at the conference. “What value do we bring? What opportunities do we offer?” To his mind, value and opportunity have little to do with size, and much to do with attitude and heart.
The reason that Raley’s matters – and why other companies, regional and private and often without the financial resources of the national chains, matter – is because they take advantage of their size to create what Coyne called “compelling connections” with customers, employees and communities. “The result can be magical,” he said.
At this point in history, Coyne suggested, customers want to know that the companies with which they do business “are trustworthy, even noble.” Privately held companies with intense personal commitments to the business can accomplish that in unique and relevant ways, he said. And he pointed to the iPod as an example of a compelling connection – it may not be the most advanced technology, nor the cheapest price, but it has been engineered in a way that has created a dedicated and loyal customer.
To be fair, I don’t really know Bill Coyne; we chatted a number of times and he always was friendly and charming. (Not something that I could say about every retailer executive, by the way.) But he struck me - and this has been reiterated by people who know him well - as someone with a good heart and a good mind.
We wish him well.