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    Applause for the Band of (Schnuck) Brothers

    'Major Observations' on the changing of the guard at St. Louis supermarket stalwart

    Has it been eight years already ? It certainly doesn’t seem that long when reflecting back to my visit with the brothers Schnuck – Craig, Scott and Todd – in 2006, to conduct an interview for Progressive Grocer’s "Outstanding Regional Independent Retailer" award, the timing of which coincided with Craig transitioning the CEO reins after 17 years to Scott.

    Now, Todd, the youngest brother of the six-sibling family grocer, is poised to take the wheel of the privately owned regional grocery chain, which operates 100 grocery stores in five states in tandem with the company’s celebration of its 75th anniversary this year.

    With a deep background in finance, Todd Schnuck, 55, who has held the No. 2 spot at the St. Louis-based grocer in recent years, will succeed his brother Scott in March as CEO, additional details of which appear here. As part of the plan, Scott will remain chairman and will assist Todd in the transition through September, while the executives’ older brother, Craig, 65 – who was inducted into PG's Hall of Fame in 2012 –  will formally retire and become chairman emeritus.

    Schnucks’ leadership transition will also position company newcomer Anthony Hucker, 47, in a more prominent role as a partner with Todd, who joined the family business in 1987 as treasurer and went on to serve as corporate VP and CFO before assuming his most recent president and COO role.

    Following the leadership changes that commence in March, Scott will continue to provide direction for the company’s year-long 75th anniversary celebration. He will also represent Schnucks in the community as chairman of the 2014 United Way Campaign of Greater St. Louis, so I feel safe in saying that I don't expect to see Scott ride into the sunset anytime soon.

    Noting that he and his wife, Julie, and extended family have been preparing for the transition for more than a year, Scott says he and Todd “have worked very closely together over the years. I have the greatest confidence in his ability to lead our company to even greater success by working through our teammates to provide our customers with the best values and the highest quality goods and services.”

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    During his stint in the top slot, Scott presided over an era characterized by innovation and profound industry change. Prioritizing differentiation to help his supermarket organization stand out in a sea of sameness as a resource for customers instead of merely a repository of groceries, the company under Scott’s watch made significant investments in resident experts, which has since evolved to include 19 professional chefs, 43 Schnucks Cooks coaches, certified cheese specialists, dietitians, certified specialists of wine (CSW), two Cicerones (beer certification), two AIFD certified florists and 86 FTD certified designers.

    Schnucks’ store development activities also underscored Scott’s leadership to stretch the company’s brands in new directions. In 2009, Schnucks created two vastly different store concepts, including the urban format Culinaria in downtown St. Louis, which at 21,000 square feet (exclusive of mezzanine), is one-third the size of a typical Schnucks store. Meanwhile, Schnucks Des Peres, Mo., location, featured as a past PG Store of the Month, is a 74,000-square-foot store that reintroduced the in-store restaurant to appeal equally to the professional chef who cooks for hundreds along with the home chef who cooks for their family.

    “Reflecting on 75 years of serving customers, each era of leadership has had an impact in shaping the company we are today,” recalls Scott Schnuck. “My brother, Craig, did an incredible job of guiding us into new and innovative formats that fueled growth and expansion. In my time, I’ve taken the company down a new path, a new direction that should ensure that no matter what challenges come, Schnucks will continue to be a strong and profitable company for our teammates and for our customers. I am looking forward to seeing what exciting turns we will take as Todd moves our company into a new era.”

    Once the transition plan was outlined, the Schnuck brothers searched the industry for a strong partner. “We were looking for a proven leader who was customer focused and passionate about our business; we found that in Anthony (Hucker),” he said.

    The company’s next-of-kin boss man concurs. “Anthony will be a great partner. Together, he and I will focus on providing the quality, value, variety and services our loyal customers want and need and that will attract new customers in 2014. I am excited and humbled to be leading our family company into the future. We've come a long way over the years, but thanks to our teammates and customers, our best days are ahead.”

    As one of the company’s highest profile external hires, Hucker returns the praise for his new employer. “Schnucks is a growing company with a strong legacy and visionary family leaders who, in their 75th year of serving customers, are not standing still but rather moving forward. They are reinventing their futures in the grocery world. I am excited about where we will go from here.”

    Ditto, Anthony, so are we.

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