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In Massachusetts, the Quincy Patriot Ledger reports that Ahold-owned Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. has Implement a corporate restructuring that will result in nonperishable and merchandising functions being moved 400 miles west from the Boston area to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where Ahold’s Giant-Carlisle chain is based.

Ahold USA’s senior vice presidents for non-perishables, fresh, brand development and format, marketing and consumer insight, sales development, business transformation and business development - said to “support the buying needs of all four Ahold USA Retail Divisions - all will be based in Carlisle.

Company spokesperson Faith Weiner tells the paper that the company will retain a corporate presence in Quincy, but that “we do anticipate that these changes will result in many support office jobs being changed, eliminated, moved or added. We won’t know the extent of changes in the Quincy office until the final organization is completed, which is expected to be done by the end of the year.”

The Patriot Ledger writes, “The company’s current reorganization appears to represent a shift in power in the organization away from Quincy ... The shift in power can be traced back to the summer of 2008, when Ahold promoted Carl Schlicker to become the CEO of Stop & Shop and its sister group, Giant-Landover. At the time, Schlicker had been CEO of Ahold’s Giant-Carlisle group of supermarkets.

“Then, in November, Ahold promoted Schlicker to be the CEO of all its U.S. retail organizations. The Stop & Shop chain was divided into a New England and New York metro group, and Mark McGowan was promoted to be the New England group’s president.”

A letter to vendors from  Jeff Martin, Ahold USA’s executive vice president of merchandising, described the changes this way:

“Our goal is to simplify and streamline our operations to position ourselves for future growth and create a support office best positioned to deliver on the local needs in our Divisions ...  We are confident that the Merchandising and Marketing organization we  are announcing today, and all the organizational changes we will be announcing during the Transition, will result in an Ahold USA Retail organization poised for future challenges and opportunities.”
KC's View:
The ultimately judgement on whether these moves make sense will have to be based on whether this makes Stop & Shop less of a locally oriented company. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe these days, an office in Quincy doesn’t have much of an impact on how well you can sell stuff in Providence or Newton or Boston. Maybe.

The challenge to Ahold is that it already is perceived in some quarters as a company that has, through a variety of centralization moves, allowed its Giant-Landover chain to lose touch with its home Washington, DC, market. It would be hyperbole to suggest that Ahold is moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic, but there are those in the industry who believe that they see an iceberg way off in the distance.

One other note. A year ago, I joked in my annual April Fool’s story that Stop & Shop, because it wasn’t worried about being a local company, planned to save money by moving its operations to Boise. I checked, and it is 2,682 miles from Boston to Boise....and just 400 miles from Boston to Carlisle. But that may just mean that there are a mere 2,282 miles to go...and there is plenty of cheap office space available in Boise these days.

I’m just sayin...