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The Kroger Co. announced this morning that David Dillon, a 37-year company veteran who has been CEO for the past decade, will retire from that job on January 1, 2014, and will be succeeded by W. Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s President and Chief Operating Officer since 2009.

Dillon will remain with the company as chairman of the board for a year, according to the statement.

In a prepared statement, Dillon said: "As Kroger implements its strategic growth initiatives, the time is right for the transition of leadership. I am delighted that the Board has elected Rodney McMullen to succeed me. Rodney has played a leadership role in every major decision Kroger has made for the past 25 years, including the development and implementation of Kroger’s Customer 1st approach as well as our current growth strategy. He is ready to be CEO. I have been honored to lead this great company for over 10 years and look forward to assisting Rodney and the Board in the transition while continuing to serve as Chairman.”
KC's View:
I suspect that for a lot of people at Kroger, this is a sad day ... not because of any lack of respect for McMullen, but because Dave Dillon is a revered figure. But I suspect - and I think Dillon would agree - that Kroger is larger than him, and that there is a culture there that will enable a smooth transition.

No drama here, unlike some other companies where not only has there seemed not to be a succession plan, but a kind of delight in creating a kind of Sturm und Drang that creates uncertainty about leadership.

Dave Dillon may retire, but his imprint on Kroger will be felt for decades. Again, unlike with some other companies (Tesco, Supervalu), I believe firmly that a few years from now we won't be wondering how he managed to get out before the house of cards collapsed. Rather, we'll be marveling at the firm foundation.

One final point. Dillon is just 62 years old. I hope he's not planning to just go fishing somewhere. I want to see what he's going to do next.