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Jeff Burt, president of The Kroger Co.’s Central Division, will be getting a change of scenery as he takes over as chief of Kroger’s Fred Meyer stores in the Pacific Northwest, succeeding Lynn Gust, who will retire at the end of the month.
Stepping down after 45 years with the company, Gust started his career with Kroger in 1970 as a parcel clerk at Portland, Ore.-based Fred Meyer's Fourth Plain store in Vancouver, Wash.
"Throughout his distinguished career, Lynn as always led by empowering, encouraging and supporting others," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "Lynn is widely respected throughout our company and industry for his passion for people, the food business, and the communities we serve. The entire Kroger family wishes Lynn and his family all the best in retirement."
Burt, who began his career with Kroger in 1986 as a management trainee, currently leads Kroger stores in Indiana and Illinois. His Central Division successor will be named at a later date.
"Jeff is a strong, dynamic leader who brings out the best in our associates," McMullen said. "His enthusiasm for serving our customers combined with both broad and deep experience in our business – including in the Pacific Northwest – will serve our Fred Meyer team well. We are grateful he agreed to take on this important role."
Burt has held a variety of leadership positions with the company in Cincinnati, Florida, Indianapolis and Seattle, including store manager, produce merchandiser and VP of merchandising and operations. In 2004, he was named corporate VP of deli/bakery merchandising and procurement, before being promoted to group VP of perishables merchandising and procurement in 2010. He has served as president of Kroger's Central Division since 2013.
In 1972, Gust entered the food management program at Fred Meyer, which operates 132 multidepartment stores in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
He advanced to serve in a variety of leadership roles in the division, including food department manager, training coordinator, grocery buyer and director of grocery sales and merchandising. After serving as group VP for the food group, he was named senior VP of the store operations group in 2003. Gust was named executive VP of corporate merchandising and advertising in 2006, followed by VP of operations in 2011. He was promoted to president of Fred Meyer in 2012.
Under his leadership, Fred Meyer reached $10 billion in annual sales for the first time, was recognized twice as one of Oregon's "Best Places to Work" by the Portland Business Journal, and twice as one of Oregon's "Healthiest Places to Work" by The Oregonian.
Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,774 supermarkets and multidepartment stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, Mariano's, Pick 'n Save, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's.