According to a Sept. 6 article in the Salt Lake Tribune, Associated Food Stores President and CEO Richard Parkinson, who led the grocery cooperative to notable growth and also oversaw the purchase of the financially troubled Albertsons’ Utah supermarkets, is retiring.
Parkinson, 62, will be succeeded Nov. 10 by Associated’s EVP Neal Berube, 56, who has served for many years as its top financial officer.
Parkinson was the catalyst behind the purchase of 56 stores that the cooperative operated under the Macey’s, Dan’s, Lin’s and Dick’s banners. Included in that was the 2009 acquisition of the Albertsons stores, the performance of which as Fresh Markets has led the cooperative to post losses since then. Seven of the cooperative’s corporate-owned stores have been shuttered.
Berube, who also serves as president of the Fresh Market division, said his stores have been posting positive cash flows for the past year, and he believes their sales will continue to improve.
Associated Food’s total annual sales this fiscal year topped $1.95 billion, compared with $1.74 billion last fiscal year, ending in March.
During Parkinson’s tenure, Associated Food also oversaw the building of one of the West’s largest warehouse operations with its 1-million-square-foot Farr West distribution center. The facility serves 400 independent grocers in the Intermountain West.
“Rich was a visionary for the independent retailers, an individual who really saw independent grocery retailing as more than an occupation, but rather as a cause,” said Dave Davis, president of the Utah Food Industry Association, to the Tribune. “He felt deeply about the importance of independent grocers; he made sure they remained viable alternatives to chain grocery stores.”
Berube told the Tribune that he plans to carry on Associated Food’s “cause and our commitment to helping the independent grocer thrive in today’s competitive marketplace.”