Will changes at top of Food Lion be the solution?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 8, 2012

SALISBURY — While parent company Delhaize America named a new Food Lion president and made other leadership changes to “improve results across the organization,” one industry analyst says it may be too late for the Salisbury-based grocery chain.
In a management shakeup announced Thursday, Beth Newlands Campbell was chosen to replace Cathy Green Burns as president of Food Lion by Roland Smith, CEO of Delhaize America.
Campbell has been president of Scarborough, Maine-based Hannaford Supermarkets, a sister grocery chain also owned by Delhaize.
David Livingston, a grocery analyst based in Milwaukee, Wisc., said the appointment of Newlands Campbell won’t help Delhaize revitalize Food Lion.
Founded on a reputation of low prices, Food Lion is now being undercut by Walmart and Aldi on price and outdone by Harris Teeter on quality and service, Livingston said.
“A lot of times with a lot of these management changes, they are trying to throw mud at the wall to see what sticks,” he said.
Aldi recently opened a second store in Salisbury, across Brenner Avenue from Harris Teeter.
“Middle-of-the-road” grocery chains like Food Lion can’t compete, Livingston said.
“They are quickly becoming a dinosaur,” he said.
Food Lion has been battling for market share in North Carolina, competing against Walmart, Harris Teeter, Aldi and others. Florida-based Publix also is moving into the Carolinas.
In January, Food Lion closed 113 underperforming stores and pulled out of Florida. Delhaize also shut down the Bloom brand, which Green Burns led.
Food Lion has launched a rebranding strategy, and Delhaize has been trying to turn around its largest banner with price cuts, fresher produce, less cluttered aisles, more private labels and other changes.
But Delhaize America stock has slumped, down 34 percent for the year and closing Friday down further to $36.79. Delhaize was trading above $58 a share last year at this time.
According to Food Lion, Newlands Campbell is a proven retail leader. In her new role, she will oversee all Food Lion banner operations, including strategic direction, financial performance, product assortment, pricing, customer service and marketing.
Offices for both Newlands Campbell and Smith are in Salisbury on Harrison Road.
Newlands Campbell plans to move to North Carolina immediately, with her family following when the school year ends.
She joined Hannaford as a retail management trainee in 1987. She progressed from the entry-level post to president of the company, which has about 175 stores in five states.
Food Lion has nearly 1,200 stores in 10 states.
Newlands Campbell worked on the team that launched the Hannaford brand more than decade ago. She also led the organization through strategic changes supporting value, health and ease for shoppers, Food Lion said in a news release.
A native of Pittsford, N.Y., Newlands Campbell graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in food industry management.
A married mother of two girls ages 11 and 14, Newlands Campbell values community service, both personally and professionally, Food Lion said. She has led major charitable campaigns and directed strategic giving to relieve hunger, support families and child development, and drive strategic investments in education. 
She serves on the board of directors for REI, the Seattle-based outdoor equipment company, and on the Business Advisory Board for Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Science.
Smith’s shakeup at Food Lion came less than two months after he took the helm at Delhaize America.
A West Point graduate and a veteran of the quick-service restaurant industry, Smith, 57, succeeded longtime Delhaize and Hannaford veteran Ron Hodge, who retired.
Smith previously served as CEO of Wendy’s.
Smith and Newlands Campbell were not available for interviews.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.