There’s a big shakeup at Ahold Delhaize USA as the Northeast’s largest retailer has named Gordon Reid the new president of its largest “brand,” Stop & Shop, based in Quincy, MA. Reid, who has headed up the company’s Giant Food/Landover unit since 2013, replaces Stop & Shop/Ahold USA veteran executive Mark McGowan who will be leaving the company by the end of the year. Reid will assume his new post in late July.
Trade observers were surprised, but not shocked by the announcement, noting that Stop & Shop is still feeling the sting of an 11-day strike by five United Food and Commercial Union locals affecting approximately 240 New England stores and 30,000 clerks and meatcutters. The strike, which began on April 11, also essentially collapsed the company’s Easter and Passover sales.
Ahold Delhaize acknowledged the strike cost Stop & Shop about $200 million in sales and as much as $110 million in underlying profits and trade reports indicate that Stop & Shop is still trying to regain sales and customers in the eight weeks since the job action ended. Those figures will be more accurately detailed in its second quarter sales and earnings report which are expected to be released in August.
“You won’t find a harder worker or better soldier than Mark,” said one Ahold Delhaize USA executive who has known McGowan for more than 20 years. He’s done everything the company’s asked of him and done it with professionalism and enthusiasm. I believe the impact of the strike and the post-strike results was the catalyst for this move.”
Ira Kress, senior vice president of operations for Giant Food, has been named interim president of the Landover, MD-based grocery chain. He is slated to begin in the role in late July.
“Mark McGowan has had a tremendous impact for the Ahold Delhaize USA brands, as well as the communities they serve, and we thank him for his 30 years of tireless service,” Kevin Holt, CEO of Ahold Delhaize USA, said in a statement. “Under his leadership, Stop & Shop has built a strong foundation for transformation and expanded success that continues through our ‘Reimagine Stop & Shop’ initiative. As Mark transitions, I have full confidence that Gordon Reid is the right leader to continue this transformation by repositioning the business for future success and rebuilding customer loyalty.”
Holt’s internal message was a bit more detailed: “It’s with mixed emotions that I share with you Mark McGowan has decided to leave the organization after 30 years of dedicated service. Gordon Reid, currently president, Giant Food, will assume the role of president, Stop & Shop in late July, but will begin transitioning to the new role in the coming weeks. At the company’s request, Mark will stay on in an advisory role to Gordon through year-end to ensure a seamless transition. Mark has a strong passion for retail, and he leads with a purpose that always focuses on customers and associates. Under his leadership, Stop & Shop has created the foundation for reimagining the shopping experience and transforming the stores to serve its communities even more effectively. Mark’s impact on this company has been tremendous, and I can’t thank him enough for his extraordinary dedication and hard work. We’re pleased that Gordon has agreed to take on this role. Gordon has more than 35 years of international retail experience, and he has led Giant Food with excellence over the past six years. He is a caring, compassionate leader with a proven track record of growing brands and making lasting connections with customers, associates and local communities. We look forward to Gordon joining Stop & Shop and continuing our work together on the ‘Reimagine Stop & Shop’ strategy, both in existing markets and new markets in the future. In the coming weeks, Gordon will be meeting with people throughout the Stop & Shop brand and in the community as he transitions to his new role. Please join me in extending a warm Stop & Shop welcome to Gordon and thanking Mark for his many contributions to the company. We wish them both all the best.”
McGowan originally joined Stop & Shop in 1991 as a management trainee. He has been president of Stop & Shop since 2015 when he also held the position of executive VP- operations for Ahold USA prior to the merger of Ahold and Delhaize in July 2016.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to lead the Stop & Shop brand. I’m grateful for our associates who are incredibly dedicated to serving our customers every day, and I’m extremely proud of all that we have accomplished together,” McGowan said. “As Stop & Shop embarks on the next phase of its transformation, now is the right time for me to make this change. I look forward to working closely with Gordon and the entire team to ensure a seamless transition.”
Reid has been president of Giant Food since joining the 165-store, Landover, MD-based chain in late 2013. He had more than 35 years of international retail experience, including various management roles at Tesco, Boots, A.S. Watson Group and The Dairy Farm Group. He was brought to Giant by former Ahold USA COO James McCann who had worked with Reid at Tesco.
Ira Kress has been with Giant his entire 35-year career. He has served as VP-human resources & labor relations from 2001-2011; senior VP-human resources & labor relations from 2011-2013; and for the past six years has been the company’s senior VP-operations supervising Giant’s 165 stores.