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Kroger announces succession plan for secretary and general counsel

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Tuesday announced its succession plan for secretary and general counsel.

Paul Heldman, 62, a 31-year Kroger veteran who has been serving as the company’s general counsel since 1989, secretary since 1992, and EVP since 2006, will retire in the spring of 2014.

"Paul’s contributions to our company during his 31-year career are quite remarkable," stated David Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. "He has been a trusted advisor and exceptional leader, providing outstanding guidance for our leadership team when we needed it most. We wish Paul, his wife Debbie and their family all the best."

Christine Wheatley, 42, Kroger’s VP, senior counsel and assistant secretary, will be named secretary and general counsel, effective upon the retirement of Heldman next year. The company expects its board to elect Wheatley secretary and general counsel at a future board meeting.

Heldman, a graduate of Boston University and the University of Cincinnati College of Law, joined Kroger in 1982 as an attorney in the company’s law department, where he focused on labor and employment law. He held leadership roles of increasing responsibility, including senior counsel, assistant secretary, VP, group VP and SVP before assuming his current roles.

As general counsel, Heldman worked alongside other leaders to help Kroger avoid a leveraged buyout attempt in 1988 and to implement a restructuring and recapitalization effort that allowed Kroger to remain a public company while rewarding shareholders and expanding the availability of stock options to associates; and he was a key leader on the team that executed Kroger’s merger with Fred Meyer in 1999, Kroger reported.

Heldman is also a member of the board of directors of CenterBank, Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy and the Ohio Innocence Project; and he serves as a trustee for the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati.

Wheatley, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, joined Kroger in 2008 as corporate counsel. She became senior counsel in 2011 and VP in 2012. Before joining Kroger, Wheatley was engaged in the private practice of law for 11 years, most recently as a partner at Porter Wright Morris & Arthur in Cincinnati.

"Christine has been instrumental in leading Kroger’s business law group as well as the company’s legal affairs," stated Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s president and COO. "Her passion and dedication to our company is evident in all that she does, and she will be a great asset to our senior leadership team. We thank Paul for his many years of dedicated service and for developing such a strong succession plan."

As secretary and general counsel, Wheatley will report directly to McMullen, who will become Kroger’s CEO in January.

 

 

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Grumpy Cat-themed odor-elimination solution introduced

BY Alaric DeArment

LOS ANGELES — Feline Internet celebrity Grumpy Cat is the mascot for a new pet odor-eliminating product from Accuy Natural Solutions, the company said.

Grumpty Cat’s Odor Eliminator uses a liquid extract from the Yucca schidigera plant to remove odors, binding to any form of ammonia-based odors, particularly cat urine, and converting ammonia to ammonium, a non-toxic form of ammonia that lacks its odor.

"Even though Grumpy Cat won’t show it, we’re excited to align with Accuy Natural Solutions to release a product that is not only extremely effective, but also organic, natural and safe for consumers as well as their pets," Grumpy Cat owner Bryan Bundesen said.

 

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Nearly one-third of consumers plan to shop via mobile during holiday season

BY Alaric DeArment

CHICAGO — A big majority of consumers plan to use their phones during the holiday season to do more than just check prices, according to a new consumer survey.

Vibes, a Chicago-based mobile marketing technology company, commissioned research firm Equation Research to poll 1,000 adult smartphone owners; the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%.

The survey found that 86% of consumers plan to use their phones this holiday season, with 53% using them to look up product information in order to trigger purchase decisions, while 48% plan to use them to find such store information as location and hours.

"For retailers, this insight into consumers mobile plans could lead to a much more lucrative holiday," Vibes cofounder and CEO Jack Philbin said. "While retailers intuitively know mobile is a game-changer, so many of them get stuck when it comes to developing and implementing a strategy that sticks with consumers."

While more than half of consumers plan to use their phones to look up product information, 44% want to receive offers and discounts. Less than 20% will look for the best selection of products, look for the most convenient location or seek personalized offers and discounts, even though previous research by Vibes found that 89% would sign up for mobile messages if they were personalized. Thirty-four percent will use their phones as a mobile wallet to organize coupons and loyalty cards, and 32% plan to make purchases on mobile websites. Nine percent of showrooming consumers are more likely to desire a more personalized experience from in-store personnel, compared with 3% of non-showroomers, and 8% of them are more likely to respond positively to an engaging and fun mobile experience, compared with 2% of others.

 

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