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Albertsons announced this morning that Jim Donald is stepping down as president/CEO of the company, to be succeeded by Vivek Sankaran, the CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America and a former partner at McKinsey and Company.

Donald will now become a co-chairman of the board.

In a memo to company employees this morning, Donald wrote:

“When I joined Albertsons Companies in March of 2018, there were two paths in front of me waiting to play out: helping to shepherd the integration of a Rite Aid-Albertsons Companies combination into 2019 and beyond, or helping further lead our already-solid company toward the future in both the four wall and no wall environment and tell our story more broadly. Just over a year later, we know which path the company took, and as I took on the role of overseeing the daily operation of our company, I also made finding my successor a high priority. When you look for a successor, you find someone who embraces your vision and then has the capacity to take it to a whole new level. “

As co-chairman, Donald wrote, “I’ll be serving alongside Co-Chairman Len Laufer, who was named to our board of directors last fall, and is a Senior Managing Director and Head of Transformation and Technology for Cerberus Capital Management. Bob Miller, after 58 years in the industry, has been named Chairman Emeritus and will continue to serve as a member of the board of directors.”

Laufer, Donald wrote, “leads Cerberus Technology Solutions, a subsidiary of Cerberus that is focused exclusively on leveraging emerging technology, data, and advanced analytics to drive business transformations. Len and his team of senior technologists work closely with Cerberus investment and operating professionals on targeted initiatives aimed at improving systems and generating value from data. I think we can all agree that he will be an invaluable add as Co-Chairman.”

Donald concluded: “I’m truly excited to see what our company does next. I’ve said it to our division presidents, our leadership team, and everyone who will listen that, simply put, the small moves we are making are adding up. The industry may think that we’re playing catch up with eCommerce, Drive Up and Go, and third-party agreements, but when we look at the whole picture, we’re changing the game for customers in small, simple ways that I’m confident will add up to our being the company that everyone wants to catch up to in the next few years.

“I’m excited about our progress and I look forward to what we’ll accomplish.”

The Albertsons leadership changes take effect on April 25.
KC's View:
One thing I know from conversations I’ve had is that just like at Jim Donald’s previous companies, the people he has led since joining Albertsons are going to miss him - his energy and enthusiasm are both remarkable and, in my experience, unique … the very definition of passionate, committed leadership.

Vivek Sankaran has big shoes to fill.