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• Michael T. Vail, senior vice president of operations at Delhaize-owned Sweetbay Supermarkets, has been promoted to president/COO of the Florida chain of stores. He succeeds Shelley Broader, who left the company earlier this month to become president/COO of the Michael’s arts and crafts chain.

Crain’s New York Business reports that Steve Michaelson is leaving FreshDirect, the New York-based pure play online grocer where he has served as CEO, to become chief marketing officer at Supervalu.

Michaelson will be succeeded at FreshDirect by Richard Braddock, the former Citibank executive who also served for six years as chairman/CEO of Priceline.com. Braddock has been serving as chairman of FreshDirect.

Crain’s Chicago Business reports that Alwyn B. Lewis, who was ousted from his role as CEO of Sears Holdings Corp. last January, will become the new president/CEO of Potbelly Sandwich Works, which has more than 200 stores in 13 states. His goal is to turn the chain into an “iconic national brand,” according to a statement released by the company. Lewis is a former COO of Pizza Hut.

KC's View:
Running Potbelly has got to be more fun than working for “Fast Eddie” Lampert, trying to turn around a dinosaur of a retailer with no seeming relevance in 2008 America. (Hell, it may not even be relevant for 1980 America. Which is sort of the problem.)

As for the FreshDirect change….well, if I am not mistaken, Braddock was one of the people primarily responsible for Priceline’s misconceived attempt to get into the “name your own price for groceries” business. Which was one of the dumbest business schemes that I’ve ever run up against.

Not for Priceline, which was trying to get a piece of the grocery pie. But for the grocers who opted into the program, thereby giving away whatever differential advantage they had and turning their stores into basic commodities. Priceline should have known from the beginning that the program was built on a faulty foundation…but it didn’t, or it ignored that reality, and the whole thing collapsed. As it deserved to.

By the way, I’m not piling on here. I used to work for a website called IdeaBeat, and was consistently critical of Priceline’s grocery efforts at the time. In fact, I was so critical that the majority owners of IdeaBeat threatened to fire me if I kept it up, because they thought that such attitude was unbecoming. (In the end, they couldn’t fire me because I had a contract, and I outlasted both Priceline’s grocery business and IdeaBeat. Living well is the best revenge.)