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Kroger Announces Leadership Changes With Grieshaber’s Retirement

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The Kroger Co. recently announced the retirement of Joe Grieshaber, SVP and chief merchant, after more than 37 years of distinguished service. Grieshaber will be succeeded by Stuart W. Aitken, current SVP of alternative business and CEO of 84.51˚, Kroger’s data analytics subsidiary. Yael Cosset, SVP and CIO, will assume responsibility for alternative business and 84.51˚.

“Today’s leadership announcements are consistent with our positive track record of strong succession planning and will help us to continue to drive transformation of our business and culture…” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “We are greatly appreciative of the unique talents and contributions that each of these leaders has provided to Kroger to create a best-in-class experience for our associates and customers.”

Grieshaber retirement
Joe Grieshaber

Grieshaber started his career with Kroger in 1983 as a store management trainee in Nashville, Tennessee. Since then, he has served in numerous roles, including as a meat merchandiser and district manager for the Michigan division.

Later in his career, Grieshaber was promoted to VP of merchandising of the Columbus division then assumed the role of corporate group VP of perishables merchandising and procurement. He was named president of the Dillons division in 2010 and served as president of both the Columbus and Fred Meyer divisions before being promoted to his current role in 2019.

“We thank Joe for his 37 years of service, leading with excellence by developing and uplifting associates and creating and executing innovative, results-oriented strategies,” McMullen said. “He’s been instrumental to Kroger as an accomplished leader with a passion for people and results, and we wish him all the best in retirement.”

In his retirement, Grieshaber and his wife Vickie look forward to spending more time with their children and grandchildren, and once safe, they plan to travel more.

Aitken will succeed Grieshaber, effective Aug. 1, 2020. As chief merchant and marketing officer, he will be responsible for sales, pricing, planning, promotions, execution, analytics, e-commerce and digital merchandising and Our Brands. He will also retain responsibility for marketing. 

Grieshaber retirement
Stuart Aitken

He was named a group VP five years ago and has led 84.51˚ as CEO since its inception in 2015. As the leader of 84.51°, Aitken played a critical role in integrating data-based decision making into Kroger’s merchandising organization. 84.51° combines customer data, predictive analytics and marketing strategies to drive business decisions, sales growth and customer loyalty.

In January 2019, Aitken was promoted to SVP of alternative business, tasked with managing several groups, including 84.51°, Kroger Precision Marketing and Kroger Personal Finance. As head of marketing as well, Aitken guided the company through its Fresh for Everyone brand transformation campaign in November 2019.

“Stuart’s outstanding leadership and deep history of putting the customer first through data-driven decisions and personalization will further transform our business for growth,” McMullen said. “Bringing together merchandising and marketing under one leader will strengthen our brand promise of Fresh for Everyone.”

Aitken serves on the boards of InvenTrust Properties Corp. and the Food Marketing Institute. Aitken is also a member of the Cincinnati Business Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Cosset will assume responsibility for the alternative profit business portfolio and 84.51°, effective Aug. 1, 2020. Cosset will continue to lead Kroger Technology & Digital.

In January 2017, Cosset was promoted to group VP and chief digital officer, where he led the company’s overall digital growth strategy, e-commerce expansion and Vitacost business. He was named SVP and CIO in May 2019, assuming responsibility for Kroger Technology and blending two talented teams to form Kroger Technology & Digital. Previously, he served as CCO and CIO of 84.51°.

Grieshaber retirement
Yael Cosset

“Yael will continue to play an essential role in accelerating our grocery-to-growth business model,” McMullen said. “His exemplary leadership, vision and customer-first obsession to make people’s lives easier using technology and data will help us to create more personalized and engaging shopping experiences and drive more trips.”

Cosset has been a member of 84.51°’s advisory board for the last three years, helping shape the business’s strategy and direction. In February 2020, Cosset was appointed to the Kohl’s Corporation Board of Directors.

In 2019, Cosset was recognized by Business Insider as one of the 10 people transforming retail. And in 2017, he was recognized by Retail Leader as one of the 17 leaders to watch.

The Kroger Co. is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and operates more than 2,700 stores. In the United States, it is the largest supermarket by revenue.

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