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The top executive from Wal-Mart’s international division is leaving the world’s largest retailer to sign on with Supervalu as its new CEO, replacing the latter’s longtime, well-respected chief executive, Jeff Noddle, in the top spot at the nation’s No. 3 food retailer.
Craig Herkert, 49, a 30-year industry veteran who has served as president/CEO of Wal-Mart’s operations in North America and South America since 2004, has previously worked at three of Supervalu’s regional supermarket subsidiaries: Albertsons, Acme Markets and Jewel-Osco. His start date at Supervalu has not been determined.
“As we approach the end of year three of our company’s transformation and as I begin planning for retirement, the time is right to lay the groundwork for continuity of leadership through the next phase of our journey,” said Noddle, noting that he will work closely with Herkert in the coming months to ensure a seamless transition. “Craig Herkert is a talented executive with extensive experience in food retailing and supply chain management. As an integral part of Wal-Mart’s senior leadership team, he has demonstrated an ability to create shareholder value and achieve business results.”
Noddle, 62, will serve as Supervalu’s executive chairman for at least one year and will play an active role in leading the company’s strategy. A 33-year veteran of the company, a highlight of Noddle’s career was serving as the chief architect behind the 2006 acquisition of the premier Albertsons properties, which doubled the Minneapolis-based company’s size and transformed it into one of the nation’s largest grocery retailers. He is also credited with reshaping the company’s supply chain structure to become increasingly effective through regional realignment, systems standardization and state-of-the-art technology enhancements.
Lawrence Del Santo, lead director of Supervalu’s board, said it was seeking a candidate who had depth of retail experience and shared Noddle’s and his executive team’s values that are “deeply engrained in the Supervalu culture. His recent experience leading diverse formats in some of Wal-Mart’s fastest-growing markets, combined with his previous experience working at Jewel-Osco, Acme Markets and Albertsons, make Craig the ideal executive to lead the company forward.”
Citing Noddle’s “tremendous vision,” which led Supervalu to “continued success in a rapidly changing industry,” Del Santo added that Noddle played a key role in choosing his successor and will continue to remain involved in the company’s strategic direction to help ensure that Supervalu “remains on track and focused throughout the transition.”
In his past international role at Wal-Mart, Herkert was responsible for a $52 billion business that encompassed a variety of diverse formats across Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America. From 2000 to 2003, Herkert served as SVP/COO of Wal-Mart International, responsible for international merchandising, marketing and operations. Prior to joining Wal-Mart, Herkert spent 23 years with the American Stores and Albertsons companies. At the time of his departure from Albertsons in 2000, he was executive vice president of marketing. He had previously served as president of the Malvern, Pa.-based Acme Markets and started his grocery career at a Jewel-Osco store in Chicago. Herkert holds an MBA from Northern Illinois University, and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from St. Francis College in Joliet, Ill.