Robert Stiles, president of Gelson’s Markets in Encino, Calif., retired Jan. 4 after more than 51 years of service to the company, which operates 18 Gelson’s stores in California.
Rob McDougall succeeded Stiles as president of Gelson’s, which is a subsidiary of Arden Group, a holding company based in Compton, Calif. Stiles had served as president since 1996.
A San Fernando Valley native, Stiles began his career with Gelson’s as a grocery clerk at the company’s Burbank location in 1960. He worked his way up to assistant manager, grocery manager and store director of the Tarzana and North Hollywood stores. Stiles moved to the company’s corporate office to become the director of grocery merchandising, followed by a promotion to VP of marketing before being named president in 1996.
In his 15 years of leading Gelson’s, Stiles is credited with solidifying Gelson’s reputation for quality, service and unique product selection. His influence is evident in Gelson’s expanded and extensive selection of organic and locally grown foods as well as the modern and environmentally friendly design elements incorporated into each Gelson’s Market.
According to Gelson’s, Stiles “created award-winning spaces that welcome customers with soaring ceilings and skylights and encouraged customers to relax in seating areas with fireplaces.”
He also is credited with leading the trend of providing disposable sanitizing wipes for shopping carts to reinforce Gelson’s emphasis on cleanliness, quality, service and selection.
In addition, Stiles was instrumental in nearly doubling the Gelson’s scholarship fund and championed the company’s ongoing support of community schools, places of worship and charitable organizations. He served on the California Grocers Association (CGA) board for six years before being elected chairman of the board for 2004-05. In 2007, he was inducted into the California Grocers Association Educational Foundation Hall of Achievement. He was elected to the Unified Grocers board of directors in 1999, where he will continue to serve.
“Bob’s success was due to an open leadership style and keeping his finger on the pulse of customer needs and wants,” noted McDougall. “We sincerely thank Bob for his dedication to our company and our industry and wish him health and happiness in his retirement, we will miss him.”