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    Leadership Transition Signals 'Start of New Era' at Schnucks

    ST. LOUIS -- The torch was passed yesterday to a new family leader at Schnuck Markets Inc. here.

    ST. LOUIS -- The torch was passed yesterday to a new family leader at Schnuck Markets Inc. here.

    After more than 30 years of helping to guide his family's supermarket chain, Scott C. Schnuck, 55, has taken over as president and c.e.o. of the $2.2 billion Schnuck Markets Inc., replacing his brother Craig D. Schnuck, 57, who presided at the helm for the past 17 years.

    Craig Schnuck is now chairman of the regional retailer. As part of the transition, Todd R. Schnuck, 47, formerly c.f.o., ascended to e.v.p.

    Over the course of the next year the transition will continue; Craig will move into the executive committee's chair, while Scott will become chairman and c.e.o., and Todd will assume the president's role.

    Craig Schnuck said yesterday that after 17 years, he was ready to change roles, serve as chairman, and guide the company's future expansion. "I believe this transition signals the start of a new and exciting era in our company's history," he said. Elaborated on the transition in an in-depth interview with Progressive Grocer, Craig added, "I'm not retiring, but in a family business, it just makes sense that there be a transition plan, and that others beside myself have an opportunity to serve in the chief executive's role. Scott is totally qualified and ready to take on the new duties, and we decided, as a family, that now is the time to make the change."

    The succession strategy gives Scott full responsibility for the direction of the company, and all related operating aspects, while Todd will oversee all administrative responsibilities including legal, human resources, and finance, while continuing to provide oversight for the family's real estate activities.

    Scott said he embraces the new role he will play in the company's future. In sharing his admiration for Craig's 17-year leadership tenure, Scott told Progressive Grocer how his older brother has "brought us through some tremendous growth. Since our generation has taken over, we've doubled the size of the company since my father passed away in 1991. We run this business as a consensus, so I'm just moving over into the driver's seat."

    "My brothers and Nancy and I are the third generation of Schnuck family grocers," Scott continued. "We've been able to remain successful because of our ability to work together and to stay innovative in the face of industry change. I am looking forward to working with Craig and Todd as we continue to demonstrate that we know what it takes to stay competitive."

    Aside from their service to the family business, Craig, Scott, and Todd Schnuck have held leadership positions with a number of community organizations, some of which have had significant regional impact. Craig is president of the executive board of the St. Louis Area Council of Boy Scouts of America. He also serves on the boards of USBancorp, Washington University, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the Food Marketing Institute, and the United Way of Greater St. Louis. He is also a member of the executive committee and past chairman of Civic Progress.

    Todd is a member of the executive committee of the United Way board of directors. He serves on the St. Louis Children's Hospital Resource Allocation Committee and has a leadership role in the hospital's current Capital Campaign. In 2005, he completed a three-year term as chairman of the St. Louis Metropolitan Urban League. Todd also serves on the board of managers of the University of Virginia Alumni Association, as well as serving in an advisory position with the school's Jefferson Scholars Foundation and on the John Burroughs School board.

    Scott's community leadership roles include serving as chairman of the Regional Chamber and Growth Association's (RCGA) board of directors, the Missouri Botanical Garden board of trustees, and the St. Louis Sports Commission. He is also a member of the board of trustees of St. Louis Children's Hospital.

    Craig Schnuck has worked for his family company full-time for more than 34 years. He was elected president and c.o.o. in 1984 at age 36, and in 1989 was named president and c.e.o., then and chairman of the board in 1991. While still in college, he helped his father and uncle solidify the deal to buy 25 under-performing Bettendorf-Rapp stores, doubling the company's size and returning the stores to profitability within six months.

    Craig also led the initiative to buy National stores in 1995, negotiating with a number of parties including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the opportunity that cemented Schnucks' position as market leader in its hometown of St. Louis. The Rockford, Ill. Logli acquisition followed in 1998, and in 2002, the Mid-South acquisition netted 12 new stores and five convenience/fuel centers.

    Other members of this family generation have played roles in the company. Nancy Schnuck Diemer, 41, the youngest child of Doris and the late Don Schnuck, left her position as the company's director of community affairs in 2001. Two years later, following the Mid-South acquisition, Terry Schnuck, 53, formerly Schnucks general counsel and corporate secretary, retired from the business at age 50. And though they are not involved in day-to-day operations, both Nancy and Terry remain a part of the decision-making process for their family businesses.

    Mark Schnuck, 49, is also deeply involved in the family enterprise, not only in the decision-making process of the supermarket operation, but also in his continuing role as president and c.e.o. of The DESCO Group, the family's real estate company.

    "Our greatest strengths are our associates, our heritage, our image in the community, our reputation as a quality grocer and the great locations of our stores," Scott Schnuck said. "In the years to come, we will continue to improve on the combination of quality, service, variety and value that sets Schnucks apart from others in the business and has helped to make us one of the most successful family-owned grocers in the industry."

    Extensive further coverage of the Schnucks transition, and the success and future of its go-to-market strategy, will appear in the Feb. 1 issue of Progressive Grocer. The magazine has named the family-held chain the "Outstanding Regional Retailer" of the year, as part of the second annual Outstanding Independents Awards.

    Founded in St. Louis in 1939, Schnuck Markets, Inc. operates 102 stores (including five Logli stores) and 99 pharmacies in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Iowa. Schnucks is one of few family-owned grocery operations being run by a third generation.
    --Meg Major

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