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MINNEAPOLIS -- Nash Finch Co. here said yesterday that Leanne Stewart, c.f.o., will resign, amid a series of executive and organizational changes that the company is hoping will improve its operational structure and bolster its senior management team.
The changes, also announced yesterday by the food distributor, include creating a company-wide supply chain management group that will enable the it to "sharpen its focus within each business unit, enhance its ability to realize operational efficiencies, leverage talent and provide customers with the highest quality products and services."
As a result of the executive changes, which include Stewart's departure, Nash Finch said it will take a $4 million charge in the third quarter 2006.
The company said it hired an executive search firm to find a replacement for Stewart, who will stay on until the process is complete. In addition to Stewart, Joe R. Eulberg, s.v.p./human resources, and Bruce A. Cross, e.v.p./merchandising, will also leave the company.
The management reorganization represents the first significant measure undertaken by the company's recently appointed president and c.e.o., Alec Covington, to position Nash Finch to grow its business and become more aggressive with other grocery wholesalers -- including cross-town competitor Supervalu.
During last week's analysts' conference call discussing results for the 12-week second quarter ended June 17, Covington said the company needs to focus on achieving management stability as it seeks to improve performance. "You can't have the level of turnover that this company has had everywhere -- from merchandising to operations to finance -- and continue to be able run things as normal," Covington said.
To that end, apparently, Jeffrey E. Poore, previously s.v.p./military, has been named e.v.p. for Nash Finch's newly created supply chain management group, a dedicated unit that will create a central control point for all supply chain management operations. Certain functions that were previously part of the company's food distribution business will be transitioned into supply chain management, including warehouse operations, transportation, and procurement functions.
Prior to joining Nash Finch, Poore served as v.p. of logistics at Covington's alma mater, Richfood Holdings, Inc.
The company said its military distribution business will also be organized within supply chain management, thereby leveraging efficiencies between the similar logistical functions of these two businesses.
The military distribution business will be led by newly appointed s.v.p., Edward L. Brunot, who will report to Poore. Brunot's industry experience includes three years at AmeriCold Logistics, where Covington was last employed prior to joining Nash Finch and where Brunot was most recently s.v.p./operations.
Previously a captain in the United States Army and a graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, Brunot will now head up Nash Finch's efforts to aggressively pursue growth opportunities in its military distribution business.
Nash Finch is also consolidating all customer related activities, (i.e., merchandising and sales) into its food distribution group, and will also transition certain food distribution logistics into supply chain management. The company said it will shortly name a new e.v.p. to head up the food distribution division. In the interim, Covington will assume full responsibility for the food distribution.
Additionally, Terry Littrell, previously s.v.p./food distribution, was named v.p./food distribution for the Southeast region.
Calvin S. Sihilling was also named new e.v.p. and c.i.o., the latter being the same post Sihilling previously held at AmeriCold Logistics, as well as at Richfood. In appointing Sihilling, the company said it enhanced the c.i.o.'s responsibilities to include oversight of process development and controls across the organization, in addition to the company's traditional MIS functions. Sihilling will also coordinate closely with senior management in the development and execution of the company's strategy.
Kathleen M. Mahoney, who has been serving as the company's interim secretary and general counsel and formerly served as v.p./deputy general counsel, has been named s.v.p./secretary and general counsel.
"The enhancements to Nash Finch's organizational structure better position us to drive productivity, strengthen the operations of each business group and hone our competitive edge in the industry," Covington said. "With a tighter, more focused organizational structure and a highly qualified team of seasoned professionals who bring unparalleled industry expertise and leadership skills to the company, we can now leverage talent more efficiently to achieve our business goals."
Nash Finch's core food distribution business serves independent retailers and military commissaries in 31 states, the District of Columbia, Europe, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Iceland, the Azores and Honduras. The company also owns and operates supermarkets under the Econofoods, Family Thrift Center and Sun Mart banners.