Supervalu's new CEO Duncan starts early

The company moved up the start date for Sam Duncan, who succeeds Wayne Sales.

Supervalu Inc. has bumped up the start date for Sam Duncan, its new president and chief executive.

The Eden Prairie-based company said Monday that Duncan is starting immediately, rather than upon the closing of the $3.3 billion sale of many of the company’s grocery stores to Cerberus Capital Management, as was previously announced.

Supervalu also disclosed Monday in a federal securities filing that current CEO Wayne Sales has agreed to forgo $2.7 million due to him in a $12.8 million golden parachute package, waiving rights under his contract.

The company reaffirmed that it expects the Cerberus deal to close the week of March 18. Sales will remain as executive chairman until the closing to help facilitate a successful transaction, the company said.

“The board decided to install Sam as president and chief executive officer before the completion of our previously announced transaction so he can start refining and where appropriate implement plans for the business,” Sales said in a news release. “I fully support this decision.”

With the sale of its four largest chains to New York private equity firm Cerberus, Supervalu will still own Cub Foods in the Twin Cities and four other regional supermarket chains. In addition, it will keep its wholesale business, which supplies independent grocers and Supervalu-owned stores, as well as Save-A-Lot, a national discount grocery chain.

Though significantly reduced, the company will still have more than $17 billion in annual revenue.

Duncan, 61, most recently served as chairman and CEO of OfficeMax. But before that, he spent many years in the grocery business, starting as a 15-year-old “courtesy clerk” at an Albertsons in Southern California. He moved up within Albertsons for the next two decades before joining the Fred Meyer chain in 1992 and eventually becoming president of Ralphs Supermarkets in California when Meyer acquired that chain.

Supervalu’s incoming chairman, Robert G. Miller, was CEO of Fred Meyer from 1991 to 1999.

Sales, a retired CEO of a large Canadian retailer, had been nonexecutive chairman of Supervalu’s board in July when he was hired to replace hastily ousted CEO Craig Herkert. Last month, Supervalu said in a securities filing that Sales would get a $12.8 million exit package, including payouts accelerated under his two-year contract agreement.

Instead, Sales will get $10.1 million. Much of the reduction comes from Sales agreeing to forgo a $2 million lump sum “target bonus” payment.

Sales approached the board last week about reducing his severance benefits, said Mike Siemienas, a Supervalu spokesman.

 

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683 Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003

 

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