Baird is next chief of Giant Ahold picks executive from Stop & Shop to succeed Manos Jan. 2

Food industry

November 25, 1998|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

International food retailer Royal Ahold NV named Richard A. Baird yesterday as successor to Pete L. Manos as president and chief executive officer of Giant Food Inc.

Baird, 56, executive vice president of Stop & Shop, another Ahold company, will replace Manos, 62, when he retires Jan. 2.

"Any time you move into a new position, it's fun pulling together a new team," Baird said in an interview. "The opportunity is enhanced by being part of Ahold USA."

Baird, who went through the acquisition of Stop & Shop by Royal Ahold in 1996, said that experience will prove useful in his new position, since Giant was just purchased last month.

"I think I can make the transition smoother," he said.

Manos, who was involved in the selection of his successor, described Baird as "the best person to move Giant Food successfully into the next century. His skills are recognized by retail specialists within and outside Ahold. His expertise and style of management fit Giant's culture."

It was not a surprise that Ahold tapped someone from Stop & Shop to fill the Giant slot, according to one trade publication. Stop & Shop is Ahold's largest U.S. operating company with annual sales of more than $5.5 billion.

"Stop & Shop, in our opinion, has the deepest talent pool because they are the largest Ahold USA operating division," said Jeff Metzger, publisher of Food World, a Columbia food industry publication that covers the mid-Atlantic market. "But I think a lot of people in the trade thought of him as a surprise choice."

Baird, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, joined Stop & Shop in 1972. As a longtime member of the Stop & Shop senior management team, he has held key positions covering virtually every aspect of food retailing.

His responsibilities as executive vice president include store operations, construction and engineering, technical support and pharmacy. Previously, he was responsible for controlling analytical support, information technology and replenishment.

The change in command is expected to have little visible effect for consumers, Metzger said.

But it does mark a change at Giant, which for years has been a patriarchal operation. Manos, for instance, was personally selected by company co-founder Israel "Izzy" Cohen as his successor.

"This is a new era," Metzger said. "This is really the first outsider."

Royal Ahold, with annualized sales approaching $35 billion, has leading supermarket chains in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia. Including Giant Food, Ahold operates more than 1,000 large supermarkets in the United States with annual sales of about $20 billion.

Alongside Giant Food Inc., which has annual sales of about $4.2 billion, Ahold USA comprises Stop & Shop, Giant Food Stores, Carlisle ($3.2 billion), BI-LO ($2.8 billion) and Tops Markets ($2.8 billion).

Royal Ahold said third-quarter profit rose a lower-than-expected 22 percent, suggesting that reorganizing acquired U.S. stores cost more than expected, analysts have said.

Net income rose to 256.5 million guilders ($133.2 million), or 0.44 guilder per share, from 209.7 million guilders, or 0.40 guilder a share a year earlier. Analysts expected the net to rise about 26 percent. Ahold said full-year earnings will be "significantly" higher.

Pub Date: 11/25/98

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