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LL Bean announced yesterday that it has named Steve Smith, a former Delhaize executive who more recently worked for several of Walmart's international businesses, to be its new president/CEO.

Smith is just the fourth CEO in the company's history, and the first outsider brought in to run the company; he succeeds Chris McCormick who has been president/CEO since 2001 and is retiring at the end of the fiscal year.

Smith begins his new role in January.

The announcement notes that Smith began in retailing as director of marketing at Hannaford, and moved on to other executive roles at its sister companies Sweetbay Supermarkets in Florida and Delhaize Le Lion in Belgium. He also has worked at Walmart's Sam's Club division in China, Asda in the UK, and, most recently, as Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer for Yihaodian, a pure-play e-commerce business based in Shanghai.

It was just last week that Walmart lost another of its international executives, when Shelley Broader, who was running its EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and Canada) region, announced that she was leaving to become the new president/CEO of Florida-based Chico's FAS. It is worth noting that Broader is a former Hannaford and Sweetbay executive.
KC's View:
People have told me that for a long time, Hannaford was seen as having one of the best management training programs in retailing, and it would appear that this is confirmed just this week by the ascendance of Smith and Broader to major retail CEO jobs.

Hugh Farrington and Ron Hodge, both former Hannaford CEOs, have a lot to be proud of. There is a lot of Hannaford DNA out there, in leadership positions at companies and associations, bringing talent, skill and passion to the marketplace.

I love the Steve Smith news. As I've said here often, I'm a huge LL Bean fan ... beyond the fact that I really admire its growing omni-channel approach to retailing and relentless focus on nurturing and reinforcing its brand equity and value proposition, it is my idea of a fashion designer. As I write this, I'm wearing Bean jeans and a Bean sun washed canvas shirt (which I have in a half-dozen colors), and I have a Bean leather jacket slung over the back of my chair. To know he comes from a company about which I have written much over the years, and from a crop of executives for which I have enormous admiration ... well, it just pleases me enormously.

More on this below, in Executive Suite.