Retail News Breaks Archives
Lynch to step down at Winn-Dixie
January 16th, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Peter Lynch, who has led Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. since December 2004, will resign as chairman, president and chief executive officer of the chain when its merger with BI-LO LLC is completed.
The transaction is expected to close between 60 and 120 days from the announcement of the deal on December 19, 2011.
In an internal letter to employees, Lynch said that Randall Onstead, chairman of BI-LO, will become the president and CEO of the combined company. Lynch plans to stay on for a time to assist with the transition and then will resign.
"Randall understands the grocery business, and more importantly, deeply appreciates Winn-Dixie’s strengths and the opportunities ahead of us to build on our successes and realize our goals," he wrote. "He also shares my passion for this business, our guests and creating a winning team with you. I am confident that Winn-Dixie will be in good hands."
Three months after Lynch’s arrival in late 2004 the company was compelled to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In an interview, Lynch later described the company’s state as "tarnished, not broken."
He immediately set out to rebuild the management team, with whom he developed a new strategy for the chain, which had been locked in an unsuccessful struggle to be the low-price grocery of choice. The new strategy and positioning, first formulated as “fresh and local,” found expression in store remodels that emphasized quality perishables departments.
In his letter, Lynch proudly noted that about half of the store base has been remodeled with "a transformational store format that can compete with any store in America." The fullest implementation of that format can be seen in Winn-Dixie’s store in Covington, La., which opened in February 2010. It was the first ground-up store opening for the chain since it had emerged from bankruptcy and it was the first new chain supermarket to open in the New Orleans market since Hurricane Katrina.
"Together, we were the first supermarket chain to rebound and open stores in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and invest in our stores when many said we were crazy," Lynch wrote. "Together, we told our guests, our vendors and the analysts that we would fix Winn-Dixie, and, together, we accomplished that goal and made our company stronger. I want you all to know that I am very supportive of this merger and wholeheartedly believe that it is the next major accomplishment we will achieve together."