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The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&) said last week that it has named a new president/CEO to succeed Sam Martin, who was hired to turn around the company and got it through a bankruptcy filing, but who departed last January.

The new CEO: Edward John Smith.

No, check that. The actual new CEO is Paul Hertz, who has been serving as the company's COO, is a former executive vice president at OfficeMax, and previously held executive positions at Wild Oats Markets, Shopko Stores and Frey Meyer.

The Bergen Record reports that "A&P also announced the promotion of Christopher McGarry,the former executive vice president and general counsel, to chief administrative officer, and the promotion of Nirup Krishnamurthy,the former chief information officer, to chief strategy officer."

Martin, the former COO of Whole Foods, joined the company in July 2010, when Ron Marshall, the former Nash Finch CEO who was dismissed after just seven months at the helm. Marshall replaced Eric Claus, who had been brought down from A&P’s Canadian operations in 2005 and was fired without apparent warning in 2009.

The Record writes that "Martin's departure was seen in the supermarket industry as the result of friction between him and Greg Mays, who was appointed executive chairman of the company a year ago.

"Mays, a member of the A&P board since 2007, was appointed executive chairman in March, 2013, in a move seen by many in the industry as a sign that the former chairman, supermarket investor Ron Burkle, was preparing for Martin's departure. Burkle's company, Yucaipa Cos., and other investors, put together the consortium that helped A&P emerge from bankruptcy."
KC's View:
Forgive me for the Edward John Smith reference. That was just my way of having a little fun. Smith, of course, was captain of the Titanic.

This is not to suggest that Hertz is steering A&P toward an iceberg. Though it seems often like A&P is a ship without a rudder or a map, and with a crew that is trying to go in different directions.

It is also not to suggest that Hertz cannot fix the company's problems. Though I have to wonder why it took the board of directors two months to decide that the guy who was number two in the company was the right person to become number one. (Who did they really want? And is it any surprise that it was hard to lure anyone from the outside to join A&P?)

This is a disaster. Short of a miracle, it is hard to imagine what Hertz can do to make A&P viable and credible again.