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The Orlando Business Journal reports that the decision by the Winn-Dixie board to replace CEO Frank Lazaran with former Albertsons COO Peter Lynch while midway through a restructuring program could actually destabilize the company even more.

The paper notes that despite replacing Lazaran, the company remains committed to the strategies he was implementing: closing 156 stores, focusing on core markets and cutting operating expenses by $100 million.

One of the central goals for Lynch will be to decide who will go and who will stay under his tenure. Lazaran was aggressive about hiring good people from other chains, and some of those folks are likely to get offers from other companies or get itchy about their own job prospects now that Winn-Dixie appears to be in even greater turmoil than before.

The paper notes that on his first day, Lynch said he would focus on improving morale, re-establishing the company’s brand equity by executing better at store level, and trying to quickly improve perishables departments.
KC's View:
With all due respect to Lynch, who certainly knows more about turning around grocery chains than we do, if we had a dollar for every time a new senior executive said that he was going to improve morale, store execution and perishables…well, we might not have to work for a living. That’s the boilerplate response that every new CEO makes, and it has the advantage of being both accurate and vague, and difficult to benchmark success against.

Just once, we’d love to hear a CEO say something meaningful and unexpected. But until that happens, we’re going to remain respectfully skeptical.