Jewel-Osco president to retire

By Mary Ellen Podmolik
Posted Jan. 28 at 10:42 a.m.

Jewel-Osco’s president for the past four years has announced plans to retire, and parent company Supervalu Inc. is sending an executive from its Eden Prairie, Minn., headquarters to replace him.

The change in leadership comes at a time when Supervalu is struggling to remain competitive against rivals like Wal-Mart, Target and even drugstore chains that have greatly expanded their selection of grocery items.

Keith Nielsen, who started working at Jewel more than 40 years ago as a grocery store clerk, will retire, effective Feb. 28. Succeeding him will be Brian Huff, currently senior vice president of specialty retail at Supervalu, who will join Itasca-based Jewel on Feb. 7.

Huff, 52, formerly a vice president at Wal-Mart Stores, joined Supervalu in 2003 as vice president of merchandising at Cub Foods. Two years later, he was named president of the division, and helped guide Cubs Foods to record sales and market share. In 2009 he was promoted to his current job.

Just before Christmas, Supervalu offered corporate and office employees the option of taking unpaid leave through Feb. 26. Earlier this month, Supervalue announced plans to close 29 underperforming sores nationally. The closings include a store in Chicago’s Chicago Lawn neighborhood, which will shut down next month.

Supervalu also said this month that same-store sales had declined for the 11th consecutive quarter, and it reported a fiscal third-quarter loss, missing Wall Street analysts’ estimates.

At the beginning of a conference call with analysts to discuss its quarterly performance, Craig Herkert, Supervalu’s president and CEO, specifically noted the competitive pressures facing Jewel stores in the Chicago market. “The entry of more discounters has pressured Jewel” same-store sales, he said. “Our (same-store sales) in all other banners as a group improved. At these banners, we believe our progress was a result of improved marketing, customer engagement, and price investments.”

Read more about the topics in this post: , , ,

Companies in this article


Read more about this company »


  1. jack (me) Jan. 28 at 11:44 a.m.

    I’m starting to wonder if these corporate releases about functionaries leaving have any significance.

    This one deals with some person with the rank of “President” and some wholly-owned subsidiary. I’m sure he has “directors” reporting to him.

    Heck, the President of Jewel-Osco doesn’t even make the SuperValu list of management.

    Now, if the CEO was forced out due to the performance issues mentioned above, that might be news.

  2. Susan Christian Jan. 28 at 3:58 pm

    Walmart pushes one more merchant to the brink. It won’t be long before that is the only place to buy groceries which would be an absolute shame.
    I love my Jewel and would hate to see stores close. I avoid Walmart at all costs.

  3. will Jan. 29 at 4:13 a.m.

    Nielsen’s forced retirement (“spending more time with my family” is the oldest PR cliche in the business) is a human sacrifice to cover for Herkert’s utter incompetence. Replacing Nielsen with another Supervalu/Walmart flunky of the Herkert School will accomplish absolutely nothing but to buy Herkert time. Walmart can hardly be blamed for taking advantage of Jewel-Osco’s countless self-inflected wounds; if you want to understand where the seeds of Jewel-Osco’s destruction lay, look not to Bentonville but to Eden Prairie.

  4. TONY FICARO Jan. 29 at 11:36 a.m.

    My wife and I are both retired management from Jewel who worked with Keith 36 years ago when he was a grocery manager at a Jewel Grand Bazaar store. He was recognized for his ability and earned numerous promotions leading to the Presidency of Jewel/Osco. He was and is respected by not only us but thousands of retired and current Jewel/Osco employees. The sad state of Jewel/Osco is the fault of Heckert and the other Supervalu micro managers and not Keith’s doing. They have driven talented people to either early retirement or to other companies ( i.e. Meijers and Costco )who could no longer handle hating to go to work everyday for a company that they used to love working for.
    We are happy to see that Keith is now going to be able to enjoy the fruts of his hard work and dedication. What he is taking with him is the respect from everyone that worked with and for him. His departure will increase the feeling that we have of attending a wake whenever we shop at Jewel/Osco that the new Supervalu puppet will likely finish destroying.

  5. TONY FICARO Jan. 29 at 12:40 pm

    First my congratulations to Keith on his retirement. After working for Keith and Jewel for forty years, I can say from experience that the crumbling of Jewel/Osco is the direct result of the incompetence of the
    Supervalue corporate micro managing of a company that did not need their help. They rolled out countless programs that we, the experienced management teams knew, and voiced our opinions, would not work. Thousands of dollars were spent to tell us where our pens should be kept.
    In this economy the public does not need easier to read nutrition information, they need to be able to feed their families on the little money they have. Supervalu continues to cut the payroll of the working staff, but I wonder how much of a paycut they took.
    As I said the Jewel/Osco teams were seasoned, experienced people. Our work ethics were stellar. How sad that the greed of Supervalu corporate teams has finally accomplished the downfall of this once great company.
    To Mr Keith Nielsen It was an honor and a privilge to have known you and work with you.

  6. 3tonewooni Jan. 30 at 12:06 pm

    Naja das kann ich nicht so wirklich nachvollzehen.
    hast du da fakten zu?
    Viagra kaufen
    Viagral Rezeptfrei
    Cialis Rezeptfrei
    Telefonsex Cam

  7. Ally Jan. 31 at 2:56 pm

    What a sad day for Jewel Osco. Keith was the last bastion of the old “Jewel” management. Our employees are now left without a lifeline. Supervalu never understood, nor tried to understand the demographic of the Jewel Osco shopper. The Nutrition IQ tags are just the latest in a very long line of gimmicks used by Supervalu to regain their place in the Chicago market. At the same time the special red price cut tags were being hung on selected items, replacement shelf tags were also being hung reflecting increases up to $1.00 on some items, .40 on most others. Prices are high, customer service sorely lacking, employees unhappy. A shopper is not going to pay top dollar to bag their own groceries because there is only 1 bagger scheduled midday, check their own groceries on the self checks to avoid the long lines at the register. Too many alternatives in the Chicagoland area.
    And yes Tony, I know now where my stapler,paperclips, pens and pencils belong, thanks to the labels pointing to the proper placement!