This week, Kroger announced sweeping changes to prepare the company for its 2019 strategy. As part of its ongoing Restock Kroger plan, the retailer is making a series of serious senior management changes, adding to the retailer's technological prowess.
Kroger announced that Retiring Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer Christopher T. Hjelm will be succeeded by Yael Cosset, currently serving as the company’s Chief Digital Officer. Stuart W. Aitken will be appointed to the newly-created role of Senior Vice President, Alternative Business.
"Yael and Chris have worked collaboratively to support Kroger's technology evolution," said Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen, in a press release. "Consistent with Kroger's history of thoughtful succession planning, Chris and Yael have a deliberate transition plan to ensure continuity while successfully delivering on our Restock Kroger technology initiatives to redefine the grocery customer experience."
Hjelm first joined Kroger in 2005 as its Kroger as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer. He will be retiring on August 1, 2019, with Cosset taking over the role of Chief Information Officer, effective May 1.
“Chris has been a key member of the senior leadership team at Kroger for over a decade, playing a transformational role in making Kroger a respected technology company. We are grateful for his leadership during this important time in our company's history. We know Chris will enjoy spending more time with his new granddaughter and close-knit family in retirement, while continuing to pursue his on-going entrepreneurial technology interests,” said McMullen.
McMullen also noted Cosset’s qualification and his important work with Restock Kroger. Cosset was elected as Kroger’s Group Vice President and Chief Digital Officer in January 2017, where he successfully led the company’s digital growth strategy.
“Yael is driving Kroger's business forward in support of Restock Kroger," McMullen commented. "He is a passionate advocate for applying technology, innovation, and customer science to make a difference in the lives of our customers. Yael has the qualifications, skills, and strategic mindset to ensure technology and digital are key accelerators of Kroger's future success.”
In a separate release, McMullen praised Aitken’s work during his time with 84.51°.
Aitken will assume his newly-created role effective February 3, 2019. Aitken will assume oversight of the company’s successful existing alternative profit businesses including Kroger Personal Finance (KPF) and 84.51°, along with leading the development of a full portfolio of alternative businesses to support the transformation of Kroger’s growth model.
“Stuart is a dynamic leader with a proven track record of value creation in businesses that further monetize Kroger's successful core,” said McMullen. “Throughout his time at 84.51° and as a member of Kroger's senior leadership team, Stuart has been instrumental to the successful development and growth of the alternative profit stream portfolio. That portfolio makes the transformation of Kroger's growth model possible, by developing successful asset-light, margin-rich businesses.”
Restock Kroger is the company’s three-year plan to create shareholder value by serving America through food inspiration, and the staffing changes are in an effort to further this plan. With a strong focus on technology and digital development, it is no surprise that some of the staffing changes are tech-related. Cosset will be assuming responsibility for the Kroger Technology function in addition to his current Kroger Digital portfolio.
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