Supervalu names new innovation officer

Supervalu (NYSE:SVU) has named James Weidenheimer exec-VP, corporate development and chief innovation officer, a newly created position.

Weidenheimer will work with Supervalu's wholesale and retail teams to develop and execute market opportunities, including new business development, cross-channel merchandising and promotions, and integration of logistical/delivery solutions for key customers, according to the company.

The supermarket veteran spent the last 16 years in senior leadership positions with C&S Wholesale Grocers. He is expected to start in his new role by April 25, 2016.

"Jim and I have worked together in different capacities over the past 20 years," said President and CEO Mark Gross. "Jim has a wealth of industry knowledge and extensive expertise in procurement, distribution and logistics and is able to draw on all this experience when considering how to best structure new offerings for a customer."

Gross succeeded Sam Duncan as CEO in February.

"I'm confident that he'll bring instant credibility to this role and innovation to our business," Gross said. "We believe there are significant opportunities to grow our business with existing customers and also to add new ones and Jim will be an excellent addition to help us achieve these goals."

Supervalu also made several changes to the executive leadership team. Bruce Besanko has added the responsibilities of CFO to his current role of exec VP and COO. His responsibilities include oversight of the company's five retail banners, merchandising, marketing and pharmacy functions, and finance, as well as add oversight of human resources.

Additionally, Susan Grafton will serve in the position of senior VP of finance, and chief accounting officer, reporting to Besanko. Grafton will oversee accounting and certain finance functions. These changes to Besanko's and Grafton's roles are effective immediately.

Supervalu has also renamed its Independent Business segment to Wholesale, as wholesale serves as this segment's primary function, which is to distribute consumable products to retail stores for final sale. Mike Stigers, exec-VP, wholesale, will continue to lead this renamed segment and will report directly to Gross.

Supervalu has undergone big changes in the past two years, having sold four of its biggest supermarket banners to focus on the wholesale business and has been building its Save-A-Lot brand with an eye to spinning it off as a stand-alone company.

For more:
- see this Supervalu press release