Kroger Co (KR) Makes Changes To Leadership Team

By Amit Chowdhry ● July 8, 2020
  • Kroger Co (NYSE: KR) has announced several changes to its leadership team. These are the details.

Kroger Co (NYSE: KR) has announced several changes to its leadership team. Kroger SVP and chief merchant Joe Grieshaber announced his retirement, SVP Stuart Aitken was named chief merchant and marketing officer, and SVP and CIO Yael Cosset was selected to lead alternative business and 84.51°.

Joe Grieshaber

Grieshaber is retiring after more than 37 years of distinguished service, effective August 15. And Grieshaber will be succeeded by Aitken, currently senior vice president of alternative business and CEO of 84.51˚(Kroger’s data analytics subsidiary). And Yael Cosset (senior vice president and chief information officer) will assume responsibility for alternative business and 84.51˚.

Grieshaber had started his career with Kroger in 1983 as a store management trainee in Nashville, Tenn. And 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 and then assumed the role of corporate group VP of perishables merchandising and procurement. From there, 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.

Stuart Aitken

Aitken will succeed Grieshaber, effective August 1. As chief merchant and marketing officer, Aitken will be responsible for sales, pricing, planning, promotions, execution, analytics, ecommerce and digital merchandising, and Our Brands. Plus he will also retain responsibility for marketing.

And Aitken was named a group vice president 5 years ago and has led 84.51˚ as CEO since its inception in 2015. As the leader of 84.51°, Aitken played a major 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 using a proprietary suite of tools for Kroger and more than 300 consumer-packaged-goods companies in the U.S. Back 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. And as head of marketing as well, Aitken guided the company through its Fresh for Everyone brand transformation campaign in November 2019.

Before Kroger, he acquired many years of marketing, academic and technical experience across a variety of industries and held various leadership roles with other companies, including Michael’s Stores, Safeway, Inc., and dunnhumby USA where he served as CEO from 2009 to 2015.

Aitken is originally from Scotland and holds a bachelor’s degree with distinction from Queen Margaret University and a master’s degree in Information Management from the University of Strathclyde. And he serves on the boards of InvenTrust Properties Corp. and the Food Marketing Institute. Plus Aitken is also a member of the Cincinnati Business Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Yael Cosset

Cosset, senior vice president and chief information officer, will assume responsibility for the alternative profit business portfolio and 84.51°, effective on August 1. And 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. And he was named senior vice president and CIO in May 2019, assuming responsibility for Kroger Technology and blending two talented teams to form Kroger Technology & Digital. Previously, he worked as a chief commercial officer and chief information officer of 84.51°.

Before Kroger, he held several leadership roles at dunnhumby, including executive vice president of consumer markets, global chief information officer, and CEO of enterprise software company KSS Retail.

Cosset has been a member of 84.51°’s advisory board for the last 3 years thus helping shape the business’s strategy and direction. And in February 2020, Cosset was appointed to the Kohl’s Corporation Board of Directors.

And Cosset — who is originally from France — graduated from the Classes Preparatoires aux Grandes Ecoles with a major in Mathematics and earned a master’s degree from the Graduate Business School – Ecole Supèrieure de Commerce de Chambéry.

Key Quotes:

“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, focusing on speed, action and agility to deliver value for our customers and shareholders. 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.”

“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. 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.”

“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. Bringing together merchandising and marketing under one leader will strengthen our brand promise of Fresh for Everyone.”

“Yael will continue to play an essential role in accelerating our grocery-to-growth business model. 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.”

-Kroger’s chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen