US grocery giant Safeway has named Karl Schroeder president of its 178-store Eastern Division, which includes 44 Genuardi's stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.

Schroeder succeeds Michael J. Bessire, who has been Eastern Division president since 1996 and has decided to take a break from his 30-year career in the grocery business in favour of spending time at his Texas ranch.

"We gratefully acknowledge Mike's many contributions to Safeway," said Steven A. Burd, chairman, president and CEO: "Karl has consistently delivered solid results while progressing through a variety of challenging line and staff positions."

Schroeder, a 26-year Safeway veteran, started as a courtesy clerk in Arizona where he later advanced to store manager and district manager. Subsequent district manager assignments took him to Northern California and Hawaii before he returned to the Mainland as VP, retail operations for the Northern California Division. For the past year Schroeder has been on a special assignment at company headquarters in Pleasanton, California. He was designated senior VP, corporate retail operations in May 2002.