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The Pantry Inc.’s search for a new president and CEO began early last fall and ended this morning with the appointment of grocery veteran Dennis Hatchell, who will take the reins from interim president and CEO Ed Holman on March 5, after the company's annual meeting.
He comes to the Cary, N.C.-based operator of more than 1,600 convenience stores in the Southeast, including those under its primary operating banner of Kangaroo Express, from Alex Lee Inc., a holding company for Lowe’s Food Stores, Merchants Distributors Inc. and Institution Food House. Before rising to the position of vice chairman last year, he was president and COO of the Hickory, N.C.-based company beginning in 1995.
Holman will remain as chairman of the board of directors of The Pantry, working closely with Hatchell.
“The Pantry is one of the largest retailers in the convenience store industry and has tremendous potential to grow and continue to be a dominant leader in its markets,” Hatchell said. “My initial focus will be to work with the board and the management team to refine our strategic vision, prioritize our investments to increase shareholder value, and get to know store-level operations to fully understand the needs of our customers and employees.”
All told, Hatchell’s resume includes more than 39 years of experience in the grocery business, beginning at Western Grocers (Supervalu) in Denver in 1972. During his eight years there, he held several positions, rising to VP, general manager. He then moved on to Alex Lee division Merchants Distributors Inc., where he was president from 1980 to 1986. Additionally, he was group VP of merchandising and store operations from 1986 to 1989 for H. E. Butt Grocery Co. in San Antonio, and president of Lowes Food Stores Inc., another Alex Lee division, from 1989 to 1995.
Hatchell “is a proven leader who possesses a unique blend of merchandising and operating experience,” said Lead Director Wilfred A. Finnegan, who noted that the leadership role was filled after “[a]fter an extensive search process.” “We believe his successful track record in the food distribution and retail grocery business, where he served in various principal positions for 33 years, makes him ideally suited to lead the company, as it continues to grow and succeed in the highly competitive convenience store market sector.”