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PARSIPPANY, N.J. -- The top job at Kings Super Markets here will go to supermarket industry veteran Bruce Weitz, who was part of an investment group that purchased the upscale grocery chain in April, according to published reports. Weitz, already the company's chairman, will take over from current president and c.e.o. Dan Portnoy next month.
Weitz joined with Angelo Gordon & Co., and MTN Capital Partners, LLC to buy Kings, for $61.5 million from London-based Marks & Spencer, PLC. Before then, the company had been for sale for the past seven years, initially for $200 million.
In the course of his more than 30-year retail career, Weitz has served as chief executive at Duane Reade Drugstores and Today's Man, Inc.; as president of First National Supermarkets and Grossman's Home Centers, and in executive positions at ShopRite and Price Chopper supermarkets.
Portnoy, who has run the 26-store chain for the past two years, came to Kings in 1998 as s.v.p. of merchandising and marketing, rising to e.v.p. in 2002. His supermarket experience includes stints at such companies as A&P, Jewel, and Star Markets.
"We plan to take Kings to new heights by growing sales via making Kings more relevent and distinctive for consumers vs. the competition in today's changing retail environment," says Weitz. "In addition, we plan to grow the store base by new stores, remodels, and potential acquisitions. The changes to grow comparable-store sales revolve around a more service-oriented store culture; compelling, distinctive perishables departments with regards to assortment and quality; more competitive pricing; and a much more niche-focused advertising and marketing program. These changes will become evident to customers this calendar year."
As for the reason for the changeover, Weitz notes: "As with any new ownership group, it is expected that some changes will occur. Dan has decided to seek new opportunities, and I am thankful that he has supported me in this transition....I have decided to fill his role [as a result of his] decision."