Kroger has named Michael L. Ellis as the company’s president and chief operating officer, effective Jan. 1, 2014, completing the succession plan announced in September. The company expects its board of directors to elect Ellis at the next board meeting in Dec.
In September, Kroger announced its board of directors' long-term CEO succession plan. David B. Dillon, 62, Kroger's current chairman and CEO, will retire as CEO on Jan. 1, 2014, and will continue to serve as chairman through Dec. 31, 2014. W. Rodney McMullen, 53, Kroger's president and chief operating officer, will become CEO on Jan. 1, 2014.
Ellis has been serving in his current role as SVP of retail divisions since 2012, where he leads five retail supermarket divisions, plus Kroger's jewelry and convenience store businesses. He previously served as president of Portland-based Fred Meyer — the company's largest operating division by revenue — for six years.
"Mike's broad-based experience on both the food and general merchandise sides of our business make him a great fit for this role," said Dillon. "Mike is a team builder who will be a great partner with our entire leadership team. We look forward to his dynamic leadership of Kroger's diverse operations."
"Mike has been a key player in our strategic efforts for many years, including the expansion of Fred Meyer's general merchandising expertise throughout the company and, more recently, our accelerated growth plan," said McMullen. "His extensive knowledge spans our multiple formats and unique approaches to merchandising. Mike's insistence on operational excellence and his willingness to push boundaries to improve the customer experience will ensure Kroger continues to grow and deliver shareholder value. Above all else, Mike brings a contagious enthusiasm for our associates and putting the customer first."
Ellis is a 38-year Kroger veteran. He joined Fred Meyer in 1975 as a parcel clerk at age 16, and went on to serve in a series of operations and merchandising leadership positions in stores, division management and as a corporate officer. He was VP of Fred Meyer's food group before joining Kroger as a senior officer in 2004. He returned to lead Fred Meyer as president in 2006, where he is credited by the company as significantly improving and sustaining employee engagement. According to Kroger, Ellis played an influential role in the growth of the company's successful Marketplace store format, which offers a wide assortment of general merchandise including home goods, toys and apparel in addition to full-service grocery and pharmacy departments.
"I am excited and honored for the opportunity to work with the tremendous leadership team at Kroger," said Ellis. "I am committed to helping them deliver on Kroger's high-velocity growth plan for our customers, associates and shareholders."