Grocery chain names Lawrence Johnston as CEO

Tuesday, April 24th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ Albertson's Inc., the nation's second-largest grocery store chain, named Lawrence R. Johnston as its new chairman and chief executive.

Johnston, 52, a senior executive of General Electric Co., replaces Gary Michael, 60, effective immediately, company officials said Tuesday. Michael will remain on the board until the company's annual meeting on June 14, 2001.

The Boise-based company operates more than 2,500 stores in 36 states and ranks second to Kroger Co. among U.S. supermarket chains. The stores go by the names Albertson's, Acme Markets, Jewel Food Stores, Seessel's, Super Saver, Max, Osco Drug and Sav-On.

Spokeswoman Ertharin Cousin said a search committee has been looking for a new CEO since Michael announced in December that he would retire.

Albertson's has struggled after its 1999 merger with American Stores Co. In March, the company announced a 16 percent decline in fourth quarter earnings but still managed to exceed Wall Street expectations.

Albertson's said it earned $220 million during the three months ended January, or 54 cents per share, on sales of $9.5 billion. That compared to $264 million in profits, or 62 cents a share, on nearly $9.9 billion in sales a year earlier.

Johnston served as the CEO of General Electric's Appliance Division.

``The supermarket and drugstore industries are in a period of unprecedented consolidation,'' Johnston said in a statement. ``Albertson's emerged as one of the great retail companies in America and is now well positioned to grow and deliver improved returns to its shareholders.''

Shares of Albertson's closed down 60 cents to $28.80 in trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.