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The Bellingham Herald reports that Clarence Gabriel has stepped down as president/CEO of Haggen Inc., the 28-store Washington State-based chain. No reason was given for the departure, except to say that Gabriel - a former PepsiCo and Albertsons executive - would be pursuing other opportunities.

Gabriel took the job in February 2011, succeeding Jim Donald, the former Starbucks and Pathmark CEO who was brought in to run Haggen in October 2009 and got the company into shape so that a majority ownership in the company could be sold to Comvest, a Florida private equity group.

Haggen is creating a new Office of the President, and the company will be run by three people: Clement Stevens, senior vice president of merchandising; John Turley, chief operating officer, and Ron Stevens (no relation to Clement Stevens), the chief financial officer and chief information officer.

The paper notes that "Haggen is in the midst of rebranding its stores with the Northwest Fresh brand, which is meant to better reflect the community with 'store within a store' specialty shops, a new look inside, and a focus on Northwest products."
KC's View:
Must be something in the air these days ... it seems like a lot of senior executives are losing their jobs lately, either voluntarily or otherwise.

I always wondered about the Gabriel fit at Haggen, since he had more of a packaged goods background than a retail focus. Whatever happened over the last 20 months, the subtext here seems to be that it all wasn't working the way that Comvest wanted it to, and so a change had to be made.

I like the folks at Haggen, and hope this works. But I'm not sure I'm reassured by a three-person leadership structure.