Can a former Lidl CEO transform Save-A-Lot into a major player?
Save-A-Lot may yet be a player in the hard discount grocery market in the U.S. The chain announced that it has hired Kenneth McGrath, former CEO of Lidl Ireland and Lidl USA, to lead its business.
In hiring Mr. McGrath, Save-A-Lot gets a leader with 13 years of executive experience at Lidl. He served as CEO of Lidl Ireland from 2009 to 2013 and was put in charge of leading the chain’s entry into the U.S. in 2013. He left in 2015 to become a regional CEO of a wireless firm.
Matthew Ross, chairman of Save-A-Lot and managing director at Onex, praised Mr. McGrath’s experience in hard discount retailing. “He is highly capable of building a world-class organization, investing in the company’s capabilities and systems, and returning Save-A-Lot to industry-leading growth by leveraging its unique market position,” said Mr. Ross.
Mr. McGrath will replace Eric Claus, who has served as Save-A-Lot’s CEO since January 2016. Mr. Claus was brought in by Supervalu to lead the spinoff of Save-A-Lot. Supervalu eventually sold Save-A-Lot to an affiliate of Onex Corporation last December.
Mr. McGrath will inherit a company that has seen sales soften while facing the prospects of increasing competitive pressure from Aldi, Lidl and a host of regional players in the hard discount grocery business.
Aldi and Lidl are looking to replicate their U.K. success in America. The two account for nearly 11 percent of grocery sales in the U.K.
Aldi has been aggressively expanding into new markets, such as California, while making major investments in store remodels. The chain expects to reach 2,000 stores nationwide by next year.
Lidl is ahead of schedule with its U.S. rollout. The company announced plans to open 20 stores this summer in the Carolinas and Virginia. The chain, which plans to open 100 stores in East Coast states within its first year in the U.S., was not expected to begin opening locations until next year.
Save-A-Lot has more than 1,300 corporate and licensee-owned stores in the U.S.
- Save-A-Lot Announces Kenneth McGrath as CEO – Save-A-Lot/Business Wire
- Aldi History – Aldi US
- Lidl is ahead of schedule for U.S. store openings – RetailWire
- Will Aldi and Lidl replicate U.K. success in the U.S.? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Can Kenneth McGrath transform Save-A-Lot into a force to be reckoned with in the U.S. hard discount grocery market? What will be his biggest challenges as he takes over at the company?