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Seattle-based Associated Grocers, Incorporated has named John S. Runyan, who spent almost four decades at Fleming Cos. in a wide variety of positions, to be the company’s new president/CEO.

Runyan succeeds Bob Hermanns, who resigned the position about a week ago.

“John is extremely well respected throughout the industry,” said Ron Brake, chairman of the company’s board of directors. “AG is very fortunate to have a man with his experience and stature leading the organization. He is starting on a strong foundation with an outstanding team of wholesale and retail players...I’m excited for our future.”

John joins AG after rising through the ranks in the grocery business to hold numerous management and executive level positions during his 38-year career with Fleming Companies, Inc. For ten years prior to his retirement in 2001, John served as a senior officer at the corporate headquarters, where he was responsible for multiple areas including: Megamarket, Super 1 Foods, Piggly Wiggly, and Save-U-Foods retail stores; Retail Training and Support; Consumer Research; Franchising/Licensing; and Group President of Price Impact retail stores. John also served as Corporate Senior Vice President, Operations, in charge of 8 distributions centers in the Western U.S.
KC's View:
We have to say that AG is an extremely fortunate company. Both its past and new CEOs are people we know and like and respect, and we think that the company is in excellent hands.

It is an interesting time for AG. Many of its retailers in the Pacific Northwest are competing with chains like Albertsons and Safeway that have been dealing with their own issues. If there is a market in which a nimble, aggressive independent grocer can make real inroads with consumers, it is the Pacific Northwest – which also happens to be a place with a sophisticated palate and an adventurous interest in food and wine.

Of course, one of the challenges of running a company like AG is that the CEO has to both lead and be respectful of the members’ wishes without being deferential – after all, he’s there to create a strategy and a vision, not just implement the wishes of his retailers. Runyan is an excellent choice, and we wish him the best.