The food retail industry's most influential players are strategically reinvesting in their organizations to accomplish growth in a highly unpredictable economy.
Among the strategies driven by top leaders are format revisions, price program changes, acquisitions, expansion moves and initiatives to align with consumer trends.
Many of these are evident from the highest-ranked players. Among the top 10, Mike Duke (No. 1), president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores, is accelerating the chain's price competitiveness while setting his sights on international growth. In particular he is emphasizing the need to produce a truly global company, which will entail improvements in the retailer's global supply chain.
Steve Burd (No. 2), president and C.E.O. of Safeway, is implementing a price parity strategy against competitors and attempting to gauge its effectiveness.
David Dillon (No. 3), chairman and C.E.O., Kroger, is working to maintain market share gains won through price investments while also striving to boost profits.
Craig Herkert (No. 4), C.E.O. of Supervalu, unveiled an ambitious growth plan for the Save-A-Lot chain and plans to enhance the consumer experience within conventional formats.
Wholesalers on the Power 50 list are attempting to give their retailers more tools in a difficult marketplace. Al Plamann (No. 18), president and C.E.O., Unified Grocers, is adding borrowing capacity to help retailers in the event they need support to buy stores or remodel. Jerry Garland (No. 17), president and C.E.O., Associated Wholesale Grocers, is in the third year of implementing new warehouse management systems that have outperformed productivity expectations.
Some top executives on the power list have been growing their businesses through acquisitions, including Gregory Wasson (No. 22), president and C.E.O., Walgreen Co. He led the company's purchase of the Duane Reade chain in New York earlier this year, and Walgreens is still on the lookout for additional acquisitions that fit its strategies.
A number of executives are focusing on revamping their store formats, including Richard Dreiling (No. 20), chairman and C.E.O., Dollar General Corp. By year-end some 1,500 units will have the retailer's new consumer-centric prototype, which sports wider aisles, better product adjacencies and bigger refrigerated departments.
THE TOP 10
1. Mike Duke, president and C.E.O., Wal-Mart Stores
2. Steve Burd, chairman, president and C.E.O., Safeway
3. David Dillon, chairman and C.E.O., Kroger Co.
4. Craig Herkert, president and C.E.O., Supervalu
5. Michelle Obama, first lady, United States of America
6. John Rishton, C.E.O., Ahold
7. Charles Youngstrom, co-president, Aldi U.S.
8. Pierre-Olivier Beckers, C.E.O., Delhaize Group
9. Danny Wegman, C.E.O., Wegmans Food Markets
10. Jim Sinegal, C.E.O., Costco Wholesale Corp.
11. Charles C. Butt, chairman and C.E.O., H.E. Butt Grocery Co.
12. Ed Crenshaw, C.E.O., Publix Super Markets
13. David Shapira, chairman, president and C.E.O., Giant Eagle
14. Ric Jurgens, chairman and C.E.O., Hy-Vee
15. Joseph S. Colalillo, chairman and C.E.O., Wakefern Food Corp.
16. Rick Cohen, chairman and C.E.O., C&S Wholesale Grocers
17. Jerry Garland, president and C.E.O., Associated Wholesale Grocers
18. Al Plamann, president and C.E.O., Unified Grocers
OTHER RETAILERS SELLING FOOD
19. John Mackey, C.E.O., Whole Foods Market
20. Rick Dreiling, chairman and C.E.O., Dollar General
21. Dan Bane, chairman and C.E.O., Trader Joe's
22. Greg Wasson, president and C.E.O., Walgreens
23. Tim Mason, C.E.O., Fresh & Easy
24. Paul Bulcke, C.E.O., Nestlé S.A.
25. Robert A. McDonald, chairman, president and C.E.O., Procter & Gamble Co.
26. Michael B. Polk, president, global foods, home and personal care, Unilever
27. Indra Nooyi, chairman and C.E.O., PepsiCo
28. Irene Rosenfeld, chairman and C.E.O., Kraft Foods
29. Carlos Brito, C.E.O., Anheuser-Busch InBev
30. Muhtar Kent, chairman and C.E.O., Coca-Cola Co.
31. Donnie Smith, president and C.E.O., Tyson Foods
32. Kendall J. Powell, chairman and C.E.O., General Mills
33. Gary Rodkin, C.E.O., ConAgra Foods
34. David Mackay, president and C.E.O., Kellogg Co.
35. William R. Johnson, chairman, president and C.E.O., president, H.J. Heinz Co.
36. Douglas Conant, president and C.E.O., Campbell Soup Co.
37. David DeLorenzo, president and C.E.O., Dole Food Co.
38. David J. West, president and C.E.O., The Hershey Co.
39. The New Digital Consumer
40. Robert E. Hill Jr., president and C.E.O., Acosta Sales and Marketing
41. Joseph Hansen, president, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union
42. Ron Burkle, managing partner, Yucaipa Cos.
43. Will Martin, chairman, Marine Stewardship Council
44. Leslie G. Sarasin, president and C.E.O., Food Marketing Institute
45. Pamela Bailey, president and C.E.O., Grocery Manufacturers Association
46. Peter Larkin, president and C.E.O., National Grocers Association
47. Matt Shay, president and C.E.O., National Retail Federation
48. Tom Vilsack, secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture
49. Margaret Hamburg, commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
50. Keilly Witman, manager, GreenChill Partnership, Environmental Protection Agency