Albertsons Companies has appointed Vivek Sankaran as President and CEO, effective April 25, 2019. Sankaran, presently CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America, will replace current President and CEO Jim Donald in the role. Donald will continue as Co-Chairman of the Board, with Leonard Laufer serving as the other Co-Chairman.
Donald, a former President and CEO of Starbucks, only joined Albertsons in September 2018. During his brief tenure, Albertsons increased its investments in numerous initiatives designed to cater to shopping across channels, including:
- Expanding its buy online/pick up in-store offering Drive Up & Go;
- Partnering with Microsoft to implement cloud and AI solutions and drive in-store shopping efficiency;
- Partnering with location-technology company Glympse, which is designed to give shoppers real-time delivery status;
- Building an automated fulfillment concept featuring AI-powered robots in-store; and
- Launching an online marketplace designed to offer shoppers a more diverse set of specialty food items.
“Retailers that survive today are used to announcements and tectonic shifts like this,” Donald said during Shoptalk. “Believe it or not, that's what keeps retailers sharp. So when we see changes like [the latest Amazon report], what I said to my team was, ‘Now is our time to sharpen our saws on the customer experience. Now is our time to sharpen our saws with our vendor relations and community relations...This is life as a retailer.”
There is no indication yet as to why Donald is stepping away from his roles as President and CEO.
Sankaran was named CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America in December 2018, but had served as the company’s President and COO since 2016. During his 10-year career at PepsiCo, in addition to leading Frito-Lay, Sankaran also served as the Chief Commercial Officer for PepsiCo North America, Chief Customer Officer of Frito Lay, and as the Senior VP of Strategy for PepsiCo. Steven Williams, currently Senior VP and Chief Commercial Officer for Frito-Lay’s U.S. operations, will replace Sankaran as CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America, which includes Frito-Lay North America and Quaker Foods North America, effective immediately.
As part of the change at Albertsons, the grocer’s longtime leader, former CEO and Chairman Robert Miller, has been named Chairman Emeritus and will continue to serve as a member of the board of directors.