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New Supervalu CEO Wayne Sales

Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

Wayne Sales, CEO of Supervalu Inc.

  • January 5, 2013 - 9:23 AM

« While Supervalu's review of its strategic alternatives is continuing, I remain optimistic about the company's future. ... Although we have much work to do, I am encouraged by our progress and the commitment at every level in the company to do what is necessary for success. »

About Sales: He made his mark in business as CEO of Canadian Tire, one of Canada's largest retailers, before retiring in 2006, the same year he was named to Supervalu's board. He became Supervalu's non-executive chairman in 2010. As Supervalu's sales and market share continued sinking last year, Supervalu's board fired CEO Craig Herkert. Sales was installed as CEO as Supervalu's stock hovered at lows not seen in 30 years.

Personal file: A Lynchburg, Va., native who grew up on a farm, Sales started his retail career as a Kmart stock boy during high school. He went to community college, but quit for an assistant manager's job at the Lynchburg Kmart. Sales steadily rose at Kmart until he left in 1991 for Canadian Tire. He took over as CEO in 2000, and got major kudos for Canadian Tire's strong performance.

What's big in 2013: Just before Herkert's exit, Supervalu announced a strategic review -- i.e. selling the firm whole or in pieces. Speculation about Supervalu's future has been rampant, from dispensing some of its 11 chains to various buyers or unloading the entire company to private equity operator Cerberus Capital. The first alternative seems more likely at this point, possibly leaving a smaller Supervalu with core holdings. Whatever's left, Sales still must halt the company's downward spiral.

Final word: "I am impressed every day with the tremendous talent we have within Supervalu. ... This company can and will be successful again, and our team members are working tirelessly to ensure that happens." MIKE HUGHLETT

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