CARY, N.C. -- In a much anticipated announcement, grocery industry veteran Dennis G. Hatchell has been named president and chief executive officer of The Pantry, effective March 5, 2012. His initial focus will be "to work with the board and the management team to refine our strategic vision, prioritize our investments to increase shareholder value and get to know store-level operations to fully understand the needs of our customers and employees," he said.
He will succeed Edwin J. Holman who served as interim CEO of the convenience retailer since Terrance M. Marks resigned as CEO effective in October 2011. Holman will remain in his position as chairman, working closely with Hatchell, who will join the board following the company's annual meeting in March.
Dennis HatchellBen Brownlow, vice president of equity research for Memphis, Tenn.-based Morgan Keegan & Co., told CSP that he views the announcement "as positive for the company's outlook.
"Near-term, I believe there will be an adjustment period as Hatchell gets assimilated with the fuel side of the business and its core convenience store customer. That said, I believe he possesses the experience The Pantry needed--a background in foodservice, merchandising, retailing and operations, all of which are core attributes to leading the turnaround," he said.
As reported yesterday in a Morgan Keegan/CSP Daily News Flash, Hatchell previously served as vice chairman of Alex Lee Inc., Hickory, N.C., a holding company for Lowe's Food Stores Inc., Merchants Distributors Inc. and Institution Food House.
"After an extensive search process, the board is delighted that Dennis will be joining The Pantry as president and CEO," said Wilfred A. Finnegan, lead director. "Dennis is a proven leader who possesses a unique blend of merchandising and operating experience. We believe his successful track record in the food distribution and retail grocery business where he served in various principal positions for thirty three years, make him ideally suited to lead the company, as it continues to grow and succeed in the highly competitive convenience store market sector. The board is very appreciative of the leadership that Ed Holman has provided on an interim basis to keep the Company focused on its strategic objectives."
Hatchell, 62, is a seasoned executive with more than 39 years of experience in the grocery business. He has served as vice chairman of Alex Lee since 2011 and president and COO from 1995 to 2011; president of Lowes Food Stores, a division of Alex Lee, from 1989 to 1995; group vice president of merchandising and store operations from 1986 to 1989 for H. E. Butt Grocery Co.
Previously, Hatchell served as president of Merchants Distributors, a division of Alex Lee, from 1980 to 1986. He also served in several positions rising to vice president and general manager of Western Grocers (SuperValu) from 1972 to 1980.
The Pantry, based in Cary, N.C., is the leading independently operated convenience store chain in the southeastern United States and one of the largest independently operated convenience store chains in the country. As of Feb. 3, 2012, the company operated 1,618 stores in 13 states under select banners, including Kangaroo Express, its primary operating banner.
(See Related Content below for previousCSP Daily News coverage of The Pantry succession.)