The Kroger Co’s president and COO Don McGeorge’s is to retire. The company said yesterday (25 June) that it had elected W. Rodney McMullen to replace him.

“Don is a rare executive who combines strong strategic and merchandising skills with a deep respect for his fellow associates,” said David B. Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and CEO.

McGeorge, 55, began his 32-year career with Kroger as a store co-manager in Louisville. He went on to serve as president of Kroger’s Michigan and Columbus divisions and was later named executive vice president, responsible for all sales and merchandising, before being elected to his current role in 2003.

In order to facilitate a smooth transition, McGeorge will work closely with Kroger until late in the year. He has been elected special advisor to the CEO and will remain on Kroger’s board during that time.

McMullen will assume the responsibilities of president and COO on 1 August 2009. He was elected to his current role as vice chairman in 2003.

“Rodney has played a key role in developing Kroger’s Customer 1st and Associate 1st strategies,”  Dillon said. “We look forward to his insightful leadership of Kroger’s diverse operations as he assumes his new role.”

McMullen joined Kroger in 1978 as a part-time store clerk. He has since held positions of increasing responsibility, including corporate controller, chief financial officer and executive vice president of strategy, planning and finance.

In his current role, McMullen’s responsibilities include strategic initiatives, business planning, customer research, finance, corporate technology, real estate, logistics, fuel initiatives and the Company’s convenience and jewelry stores.

“I consider it a privilege to work with the great team of associates we have in all areas of our company. I appreciate Don’s support as we make this transition and I look forward to working with Dave and our entire team as we build on Kroger’s success,” said McMullen, 48.