Former Delhaize America chief takes top spot at Office Depot

SALISBURY — The former CEO of Food Lion parent company Delhaize America — both based in Salisbury — has landed at the new Office Depot Inc.

Roland Smith, 59, has been tapped to lead Office Depot Inc., a newly combined company after Office Depot merged this week with OfficeMax.

Previously, Smith led the U.S. division for Delhaize Group, a Belgium-based international supermarkets operator that owns Food Lion, Hannaford and other chains mostly on the East Coast. Smith resigned after he was passed over for the top spot in Brussels, which went to new Delhaize Group CEO Frans Muller.

Known as a “turnaround expert,” Smith led an overhaul of Food Lion that has increased sales and earned praise from industry analysts. Changes included lower prices, cutting 500 executive positions and firing the former Food Lion president.

Smith orchestrated the sale of Food Lion’s sister chains, Sweetbay, Reid’s and Harveys.

Delhaize Group is still looking for a Smith’s replacement to run Delhaize America. In the meantime, new Food Lion President Beth Newlands Campbell reports directly to the Brussels office.

Smith played a key role in combining restaurant chains Wendy’s and Arby’s, as well as leading operational turnarounds at American Golf Corporation, the world’s largest owner and operator of golf courses, and AMF, the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling centers, Office Depot said in a statement.

The combined company said the former CEOs of both Office Depot and Office Max have resigned and stepped down from the board.

Smith must decide where the office-supply retailer will be based — in Naperville, Ill., which is OfficeMax’s location, or Boca Raton, Fla., the home of Office Depot.

Smith comes to Office Depot “with a strong retail track record of increasing operating profit, managing complex integrations, directing corporate turnarounds and transforming companies for future success,” according to Office Depot.

Food Lion announced Tuesday that the company made significant investments in 169 stores in North Carolina and South Carolina and created 500 new jobs. Key markets include Greenville, Wilmington, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

These are the investments that Rowan County stores received last year.

Food Lion was founded in 1957 as Food Town in Salisbury and has since grown to more than 1,100 stores in 10 states.

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