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    Kroger Division President to Retire; Successor Named

    CINCINNATI - The Kroger Co. said yesterday that Robert J. Hodge, president of the Cincinnati-Dayton division, will retire from the company at the end of January 2005 after a 40-year career in the supermarket industry. His successor will be Kroger s.v.p. Geoffrey J. Covert.

    CINCINNATI - The Kroger Co. said yesterday that Robert J. Hodge, president of the Cincinnati-Dayton division, will retire from the company at the end of January 2005 after a 40-year career in the supermarket industry. His successor will be Kroger s.v.p. Geoffrey J. Covert.

    Hodge joined Kroger in 1964 as a management trainee in St. Louis, his hometown. He was a meat buyer and merchandiser for Kroger marketing areas (KMAs) in St. Louis and Cleveland from 1964 until 1974, when he left the company for Ralph's Grocery Co. He came back to Kroger and St. Louis in 1977. (Kroger acquired Ralph's Grocery Co. in 1999 as part of the Kroger-Fred Meyer merger.)

    Over the next 27 years Hodge served in various positions, including as president of Kroger operations in Atlanta, St. Louis, and Florida, and v.p. of Dillon Cos. He was corporate s.v.p. of Kroger merchandising and manufacturing from 1988 until 1992, when he became president of the Cincinnati-Dayton marketing area. In this role Hodge upped Kroger's regional operations from 89 to 108 stores.

    "Bob Hodge's contributions to Kroger are numerous," noted Kroger president and c.o.o. Don McGeorge in a statement. "His dedication to serving the customer strengthened our presence in the Cincinnati-Dayton market that has withstood many new competitors. He will be best remembered for his commitment to developing his people to be the leaders of the company."

    Geoffrey J. Covert has been promoted to replace Hodge as president of the Cincinnati-Dayton marketing area. Covert came to Kroger in 1996, after 22 years with Procter & Gamble. He has held several positions with Kroger, including v.p. of grocery products; group v.p. and president of Kroger manufacturing, and s.v.p.

    Either directly or through its subsidiaries, Kroger operates 2,531 supermarkets and multidepartment stores in 32 states under two dozen banners, including Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, King Soopers, Smith's, Fry's, Fry's Marketplace, Dillons, QFC, and City Market. The company also runs, either directly or through subsidiaries, franchise agreements, or operating agreements, 792 convenience stores, 439 fine-jewelry stores, 520 supermarket fuel centers, and 42 food processing plants.

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