Senior Supervalu Inc executive Pete Van Helden is to leave the US retailer after over 30 years with the business.

Van Helden, executive vice president of retail operations, will depart this spring in a "mutually beneficial decision", Supervalu said yesterday (3 May).

The retailer said his exit "comes at the right time for both Supervalu and Van Helden, as the company continues to implement its business transformation strategy and as Van Helden moves on to opportunities that will better utilise his strengths".

Supervalu, which has a network of over 4,300 stores in the US, is trying to turn around its business after three years of falling gross profit, revenue and identical-store sales.

Kevin Holt, a former executive at US retailers Meijer and Sears Holdings Corp., will replace Van Helden. Supervalu said the 53-year-old has "significant experience leading teams in similar turnaround environments". Holt's most recent roles have come at Michigan-based ice cream manufacturer Hudson Ice Cream and confectionery retailer Kilwin's Quality Confections.

"Kevin is a seasoned retail executive who understands the importance of combining enterprise leverage, merchandising and passionate customer-focused execution. He has broad experience improving company performance and knows how to build strong retail teams," Herkert said. "We believe he has the right blend of experience to help Supervalu deliver on the promise of its business transformation, which involves investing in fair prices and delivering a differentiated hyperlocal retail experience."

Herkert said Van Helden had been "a passionate leader of our retail businesses for many years". Van Helden started at Albertsons, which Supervalu acquired as part of a consortium six years ago, in 1978.

"During his 34 years with the organisation, Pete ran stores, drove integration after corporate mergers and acquisitions, and set strategy for the retail divisions," Herkert said. "We will miss his active voice in our company and wish him all the best as he takes on new challenges outside of Supervalu."

Click here for our In the spotlight analysis, published last month, of Supervalu's transformation programme.