Published on: December 7, 2012Seven weeks after taking over as president/CEO of Delhaize America, Roland Smith has announced a series of sweeping executive and structural changes that include moving some top chain execs around, as well as the departures of Food Lion President Cathy Green Burns and Delhaize America Chief Supply Chain Officer Mark Doiron.
In addition, Smith has served notice that he intends to seriously look at "consolidating support services" for the company's various chains in late 2013 or early 2014.
In a memo sent to company associates, Smith makes the following reassignments:
• Beth Newlands Campbell, the president of Hannaford Supermarkets, will be the new President, Food Lion/Harveys.
• Brad Wise, SVP, Human Resources, Delhaize America, becomes the President of Hannaford/Sweetbay.
• Mike Vail, the president of Sweetbay Supermarkets, will assume the role of Chief Supply Chain Officer, Delhaize America.
• Greg Amoroso, SVP, Business Service Center and Sustainability for Delhaize America, becomes CFO for Delhaize America.
• David Criscione will assume the role of Chief Strategy & Development Officer, Delhaize America; most recently, he has been SVP, Strategy, Marketing and Business Development, at Hannaford.
The memo also says that Meg Ham will continue in her role as President, Bottom Dollar Food; Deborah Dixson will continue in her role as Chief Information Officer, Delhaize America; and Linn Evans will continue in his role as Chief Legal Officer, Delhaize America.
These positions will all report to Smith, according to the memo, as he streamlines the organizational structure to "provide clarity of responsibility and accountability for the newly formed Delhaize America Leadership Team (DALT)."
In making the announcement, Smith writes that "it is important to note ... that although it’s early in my tenure, I have had hundreds of significant and substantial conversations and interactions with trusted leaders across the organization. I mention this only to say that these decisions and moves were made with a great deal of input." Smith writes that "through hours of one-on-one conversations, pages of written correspondence, and informal exchanges, I have explored both thoroughly and quickly what can be done to realize the potential of our business."
Smith also says that a search has begun for an individual to serve as Chief People Officer, Delhaize America.
In addition, the company is forming a temporary Strategic Task Force, that will be charged with "developing a Delhaize America vision and strategy"; "clearly defining key critical priorities for 2013 and beyond"; "establishing operating principles"; and "building the right structure throughout the organization to ensure and simplify accountability."
"he full composition of the Strategic Task Force will be announced in the coming weeks," Smith writes, "however it is important to note at this time that Robert Canipe, who has served as Delhaize America CFO since 2010, has accepted a role with this group."
The executive departures are handled this way in the memo:
"Effective Friday, Food Lion President Cathy Green Burns and Delhaize America Chief Supply Chain Officer Mark Doiron are leaving the organization.
"Cathy has been a tireless and trusted Delhaize America associate for nearly 30 years, rising from a bagger in Bangor, Maine, to the top leadership position of our largest banner. Along the way, she held senior leadership positions in Merchandising, Distribution, and Operations at both Hannaford and Food Lion before becoming Chief Operating Officer at Food Lion from 2005 to 2010. She became the president of Food Lion in 2010.
"Cathy is known for her graceful, caring manner and broad understanding of the grocery industry. I appreciate her vast contributions to the organization and the lasting relationships she has built throughout her career.
"Mark has dedicated his career to building Delhaize America into a world-class organization after starting with Hannaford in 1985. After serving as a Category Manager, Mark took on advanced leadership roles throughout Merchandising, achieving the position of Executive Vice President, Hannaford Merchandising, Distribution and IT in 2008. Mark has served Delhaize America as Chief Supply Chain Officer since 2010.
"Mark is known for his ability to understand large systems and build teams to support complex processes. His contributions across many years and many departments within the organization are appreciated."
In addressing the issue of centralization of Delhaize's various businesses, Smith writes:
"I want to share with you my thinking on the question of whether we consolidate and/or relocate our corporate support services functions (formerly known as Shared Services).
"After a great deal of consideration regarding the future of our business, I have decided that centralizing these functions into one location is not a top priority at this time.
"That said, I and a vast majority of the leaders with whom I’ve spoken continue to believe that a central location for corporate support services is critical and necessary to strengthening our organization. However, there needs to be a demonstrable benefit to our business and our bottom line before implementing plans to consolidate corporate support services. Also, we need to stabilize our business and complete our reorganization plans before causing the significant disruption for associates that moving would entail and spending the millions of dollars necessary to facilitate such a major move.
"We will begin exploratory analysis about consolidating support services in late 2013 or early 2014. However, for the purposes of meeting our immediate needs, my intent is to relocate my team of direct reports and a select group of their key leaders to North Carolina. One notable exception is Brad Wise, who will lead Hannaford and Sweetbay from Maine."
The memo concludes this way:
"Over the next few weeks, my new team and I will focus on refining our business strategies and building the right structures to refocus, execute, and succeed.
"Similar to my personal entry into the organization, we intend to move quickly in making decisions and setting the right direction for Delhaize America so we can take action to improve our position in the marketplace. In that spirit, we are committed to communicating the next level of structural changes within the first six weeks of 2013.
"I appreciate that this is a lot of complex and potentially emotional information to process. While it represents significant change for the organization, this work raises my confidence in the future of Delhaize America. I believe that this structure, team of talented leaders, and focus on clear priorities represents a solid foundation for future success. However, I firmly believe the success of Delhaize America will ultimately be driven by your continued hard work and commitment to excellence."
- KC's View:
- I have to admit that I have mixed emotions about all these announcements.
To begin with, Cathy Green Burns is, quite simply, one of the nicest people I've ever met, and she always has struck me as a strong, smart and compassionate leader - the kind of person that I wish I'd had the opportunity to work for and with during my career. She's also always been tremendously supportive of both me and MNB over the years ... and I can't separate my feelings from these facts.
Besides, when Cathy took over the Food Lion top job just a couple of years ago, it was my sense that she had a lot of repair work to do ... that her predecessor had left some wreckage that needed a deft yet decisive touch. Which she delivered, along with a rolling rebranding effort for Food Lion stores in a number of markets.
I cannot imagine that we've heard the last of Cathy ... and if she wants it, I'll find her a place here at MNB. (Though I suspect she can do a lot better than that...)
Now, I haven't known Beth Newlands Campbell nearly as long as I've known Cathy, nor as well. But my sense of Beth is that she is a strong strategic thinker, and that she is great at seeing both the big picture and the little pieces of the puzzle that make it up. Food Lion is in for some changes, and I think Beth will bring a lot of leadership strengths, and a willingness to think and act outside the box, to the table.
To be honest, I have some misgivings about these broad organizational changes, especially considering that they've been made by a CEO who only has been with the company - and in the supermarket industry - for just a few months. (Prior to taking the Delhaize job, Smith spent much of his career in the fast food business.)
I also tend to be generally skeptical about centralization efforts that may do more for efficiency than effectiveness, and that sometimes can reduce the local appeal of the affected chains.
That said, I also admire decisiveness. I think speed is necessary in these highly competitive times. And, in other circumstances, I've written approvingly of companies that have hired CEOs from the outside, CEOs that have come in a killed the sacred cows.
It is a cliche, but only time will tell if Roland Smith's moves make sense, if they bring Delhaize's various chains and brands to new heights. I wish him - and his entire management team - luck.
But I am sad about my friend Cathy Green Burns.