business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • Ron Askew chief marketing officer of Coors Brewing, announced that he is leaving the company. No word on whether he is taking the twins with him.

  • Safeway Inc. announced the appointment of Raymond G. Viault, the retired vice chairman of General Mills, to the company's board of directors, replacing Hector Ley Lopez, who is retiring from the board on December 15, 2004.

    "We are pleased to have Ray join our board," said Steven A. Burd, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Safeway. "His extensive brand marketing experience in the consumer packaged goods industry will be a valuable resource for us as we expand and enhance our own branding efforts."

KC's View:
We normally don’t comment on board appointments, in part because debacles like the Disney-Eisner situation make us supremely cynical about the potency of people on such boards.

But here’s the question we’d ask. Safeway is a company that seems to be in trouble, that many people would suggest is completely out of touch with the needs and desires of consumers, and that some would say is fixated on financial issues that won’t ultimately make it more competitive for the consumer dollar. If this is true, then does the appointment of the retired chairman of General Mills do anything to solve the company’s real and abiding problems?

Now, we don’t know Mr. Viault, and have no dog in this hunt. He’s probably a very nice man. But reading his bio doesn’t suggest to us that, even though he is a so-called “independent director,” he is a likely to be a guy who is going to shake things up at Safeway…and Safeway certainly seems like a company that could use some shaking.

So much for not commenting on board appointments…