retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, in a story about what I think is Sobeys' very smart hiring of former Food Lion president Beth Newlands Campbell as president of its Atlantic/Ontario business unit, I commented that she "comes from the Ron Hodge school of retailing, which has brought us such executives as Shelley Broader (now CEO of Chico's), Meg Ham (president of Food Lion), Cathy Burns (COO of the Produce Marketing Association), Stephen Smith (CEO of LL Bean) and Steve Campbell (president/founder of the Pro-voke agency)."

I left out at least a couple of folks - like Mike Vail, currently the president of Hannaford, and Rick Anicetti, currently the president of The Fresh Market, - who come out of that Hannaford tradition.

This was pointed out to me by several MNB readers, some of whom also noted that it wasn't just Ron Hodge who created this tradition, but also Hugh Farrington and Jim Moody.

Let me offer the perspective of MNB reader John Rand:

I note your comments on the Ron Hodge “school of retailing” which has brought a number of truly excellent executives to the top of the industry in various place.

I can’t argue at all. But I will say Ron Hodge, like almost all really good executive leaders,  came out of a tradition and experience laid down by others before him. Before Ron there was James Moody and Hugh Farrington, a team of great vision and impeccable integrity, who led  Hannaford to become one of the great, smart regional operators in the country. I was proud to be associated with them for a while.  The list of accomplishments was long – Hannaford understood EDLP before Walmart, understood the power of data before the PC, understood integrated logistics when the Federal highway system was barely built.

But most of all Hannaford was a culture of retailing and retailers. People were mentored, people were empowered, and people who could do the job were respected and recognized.

I don’t think that becoming part of Delhaize was, in the end, good for that unique northern New England retailing culture back in Maine, but it sure gave opportunities to a lot of executives. I do not know what the fate of Hannaford will be as Delhaize and Ahold combine.

But I will always be proud of my time at Hannaford , and in the 25 years since I left Maine and made the enormous journey all the way to Massachusetts (!!)  Hannaford has always been a credential of respect.

Thanks for elaborating and explaining ... and I apologize for missing some of the great people who came out of this company.
KC's View: