A passing of the baton is occurring at Stater Bros. Markets as Phil Smith announced he is retiring as Chairman of the Board, effective immediately. As he ends his tenure, he will hand the reins to Chief Executive Officer Pete Van Helden, while Sean Varner, Managing Partner of Varner & Brandt, will take on the role of Vice Chairman.
“On behalf of the Board and Stater Bros. employees, I would like to thank Phil for his years of dedicated service to the company, our teammates, and our customers,” said Van Helden. “We wish him the best as he embarks on the next journey in his life.”
Van Helden joined Stater Bros. as President and Chief Operating Officer in 2013 before taking over as Chief Executive Officer in 2016. In 2021, he was named Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. As he takes over the role of Chairman, Van Helden will continue to serve as CEO.
Varner is the Managing Partner of Varner & Brandt, according to a press release, and has over 25 years of legal and business expertise focusing on corporate and business law, real estate transactions, development and land use, finance, and technology. In 2021, Varner was selected to serve as Corporate Secretary and General Counsel of Stater Bros.
“Varner & Brandt’s relationship with Stater Bros. goes back many years, and is based on mutual respect and aligned values,” Varner explained. “I am honored to serve as Vice Chairman and look forward to helping Stater Bros. achieve even greater success in the future.”
Smith, who has had a distinguished career with the retail chain, began his career with the company in 1987. Throughout his tenure, he held various finance and accounting leadership roles, ultimately serving as the company’s Executive Vice President Finance/Chief Financial Officer/Chief Accounting Officer before his retirement in 2012. In 2016, he stepped in as Chairman of the Board.
“It has been a privilege and honor to serve the Stater Bros. team and our loyal customers over the last 35 years,” said Smith. “With Pete and Sean’s leadership, the company will be in capable hands, and I look forward to seeing them take Stater Bros. to the next level.”
To read more about this leadership transition, click here.
Cheers to these leaders as they begin down these new career pathways!