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LAKELAND, Fla. -- Charlie Jenkins Jr. yesterday said he plans to retire as c.e.o. of Publix Super Markets here on March 29, 2008, sticking to an established succession plan. The company said current president Ed Crenshaw will fill Jenkins' shoes.
Jenkins will retire just a few days shy of his 65th birthday, fulfilling a succession plan that had already been put in place, spokeswoman Maria Brous told Progressive Grocer yesterday.
It sounds more like a semi-retirement. "He will enjoy more time with his family, but he'll still be very involved at Publix, as he'll now serve as chairman of the board of directors," Brous said. "That position will be effective the very next day [after March 29]."
Added Brous, "Charlie has done a phenomenal job of setting the stage for us in growing the company." Not surprisingly, she noted the chain's mission -- which for 77 years has been about to put customers first, commit to customer service, and offer quality products at competitive prices -- will not change under the new leadership.
Jenkins, who is the nephew of Publix founder George Jenkins, began his career at the chain in 1969 as the assistant to the v.p. of real estate. In 1974, he became v.p. of real estate, and was elected to serve on the board. He was promoted to e.v.p. in 1988, then became chairman of the executive committee in 1990 and c.o.o. in 2000. He was named c.e.o. in 2001.
Once Jenkins assumes the chairman role, current chairman Howard Jenkins will become chairman of the executive committee.
Future c.e.o. Crenshaw, who is 56 and the grandson of George Jenkins, stared working at Publix in 1974 as a front-service clerk in Lake Wales, Fla. After holding a variety of retail and support positions, he was promoted to director of retail operations for the Lakeland Division in 1984.
In 1990, he became v.p. of the Lakeland Division, and was elected to the board. In 1991, Crenshaw moved to Atlanta to start the Publix Atlanta Division as division v.p. He was promoted to e.v.p. of retailing in 1994, and to president in 1996.
Todd Jones, s.v.p. of product business development, will replace Crenshaw as president. Jones, who is 45 and not related to the Jenkins family, joined Publix in 1980 as a front-service clerk in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. He became a store manager in 1988, was elevated to district manager in 1997, regional director in 1999 and v.p. of the Jacksonville Division in 2003. In 2005, Jones was promoted to his current position.
Publix is privately owned and operated by its 143,000 employees. The company has 911 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee.
[Editor's Note: You can learn more about the history of Publix and the vision behind its successful long-lived retailing strategy in the Sept. 1 issue of Progressive Grocer.]