Giant taps Sainsbury executive Michael Broomfield is named chief operating officer

December 17, 1997|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Giant Food Inc. said yesterday that its next chief operating officer will come from J. Sainsbury PLC, the British grocer that owns half of Giant's voting stock.

The appointment of Michael W. Broomfield as Giant's chief operating officer marks the first time a Sainsbury executive has been chosen to fill a top management job at Giant Food, said Giant spokesman Barry F. Scher.

In taking the job, Broomfield will resign from Sainsbury after 35 years and from Giant's board of directors. He will succeed Alvin Dobbin, who will retire March 1.

Sainsbury, the major grocer in Britain, owns 20 percent of the nonvoting shares of Giant and controls four of nine board seats. Industry analysts have speculated for years that Sainsbury would eventually try to buy a controlling interest in the company.

But Scher denied that the move signaled any greater control by Sainsbury over Giant, the Landover-based chain with the majority market share in the Baltimore and Washington areas.

"The announcement is strictly about two individuals," Scher said. "When Dobbin announced his intention to retire, we had the opportunity to bring into Giant's ranks a person who has an equally solid background in food retailing and distribution."

Broomfield, 55, said he was sent by Sainsbury more than a year ago "to learn about Giant and help them as a member of the board."

But his appointment as chief operating officer came solely from Giant Chief Executive Officer Pete Manos, he said. Manos could not be reached for comment.

"It's a completely independent decision I came to, and Pete came to, with no influence by Sainsbury," Broomfield said. "We both felt the time was right."

Broomfield has had several executive positions in store and administrative operations, starting with Sainsbury at the United Kingdom's first supermarket in 1961.

He advanced to district manager and area director for more than 65 Sainsbury stores, and was promoted in 1990 to vice president of retail operations for Shaw's Supermarkets, a Sainsbury-owned chain based in East Bridgewater, Mass.

In 1992, Broomfield returned to London as a departmental director to manage Sainsbury's subsidiary of "hypermarkets," huge grocery stores.

"You name it, I've done it," Broomfield said, noting that he's learned "what's right for America isn't right for the U.K. and what's right for the U.K. is not right for America. They're two nTC different markets. It's significantly more competitive in the U.S.A. than in the U.K.

"My job will be to build on the platform that Al Dobbin has left. Whatever new innovations I can bring, I will do so based on 35 years in the industry."

Dobbin, who joined Giant as a retail trainee in 1954 after graduating from American University, will become a special consultant to Giant and continue serving on the board.

Manos said in a statement yesterday that he expects Dobbin to help with plans to expand Giant's stores in the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas, and its Super G stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Pub Date: 12/17/97

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