Robert Miller, tasked with overseeing reunification of Idaho's storied Albertsons supermarket chain, comes to the job with a deep background in the grocery business and respect in his field, say those how know him.
Miller, CEO of Albertson's LLC, is "hands on and a team builder," said Skip Oppenheimer, CEO and chairman of Oppenheimer Companies, which sells products to both Albertson's LLC and the Albertsons stores under Supervalu's control.
"He is one of the most highly regarded leaders in the supermarket industry," Oppenheimer said. "The people who work for him have huge respect for him."
Miller has 50 years of retailing experience -- 30 of them with Albertsons Inc. before it was sold to Supervalu in 2006. He rose to vice president of retail operations.
Miller later was chairman and CEO of Fred Meyer Inc. until its 1999 purchase by Kroger Inc., the nation's largest supermarket company, where Miller stayed on briefly as chief operating officer. He was CEO and chairman of drug-store owner Rite Aid Corp. between 1999 and 2003. Before joining Albertson's Inc. in 2006, he was chairman of Wild Oats Market, a natural-foods chain based in Boulder, Colo.
He serves on several boards including Nordstrom Inc., U.S. Bakery and Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts. He will become chairman of the Supervalu board once the sale of the former Albertsons Inc. stores to a consortium led by Cerberus Capital Management is completed.
He's also given $250,000 to Boise State University to fund 50 scholarships.
Miller is "one of the seminal geniuses in the history of retailing," Burt Flickinger, a supermarket and retail analyst, told the Statesman last year.
Miller declined to be interviewed.
As CEO of Albertson's LLC, Miller took control of about 600 Albertsons stores in 2006. That has dwindled to 190 as stores were sold or closed.
"In 2006, we acquired a set of stores that lacked investment and were in tough shape," Miller said in a statement Thursday. "But ... we have grown into a solid regional supermarket chain with growing sales. I believe we can be successful again."
Charley Jones, owner of Stinker stores in Idaho, doesn't anticipate large numbers of store closures when Miller takes over Supervalu's Albertsons stores.
Jones, who bought 14 fuel and convenience stores from the Supervalu's Albertsons in 2011, says Miller is interested in trying to make stores successful.
As Albertson's LLC was downsizing, it came across stores that it couldn't sell, so Miller continued to work with them and made them profitable, Jones said.
"I am confident that Bob knows grocery retailing," Jones said. "If anybody can get it done, Bob can."
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