The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) yesterday announced the appointment of new presidents at three retail divisions effective immediately.

Sam K. Duncan, 49, has been promoted to president of Fred Meyer Stores. He previously had been president of Ralphs Grocery Company’s supermarkets division in Los Angeles since 1998. Prior to that, he had spent six years with Fred Meyer, holding a variety of senior management positions with the retailer, including Executive Vice President of the Food Group. Mr. Duncan took over at Ralphs following its acquisition by Fred Meyer, Inc. in 1998.

John Burgon has been promoted to president of Ralphs. Mr. Burgon, 54, has been president of King Soopers in Denver, Colorado, since 1997. He began his retail career with King Soopers in 1973 as a produce clerk. He later held a variety of upper-level management positions within several Kroger divisions, including executive vice president of Fry’s and later vice president of Dillon Companies, where he was responsible for four supermarket divisions.

Russell J. Dispense, 53, has been promoted to president of King Soopers. He had been president of Smith’s Food & Drug Stores in Salt Lake City, Utah, since 1999. Prior to that, Mr. Dispense spent 34 years at King Soopers, holding executive positions in operations and real estate. He had been vice president of marketing prior to his promotion to Smith’s. Mr. Dispense joined King Soopers in 1965 as a courtesy clerk.

Kroger expects to appoint a new president at Smith’s shortly.

“These talented executives bring a broad array of retail operations and marketing experience to their new posts,” said David B. Dillon, Kroger president and chief operating officer. “Each has established a long record of achievement at major Kroger divisions.”

Ken Thrasher has announced his retirement as president of Fred Meyer Stores, a position he had held since 1999. He served in a variety of management positions with Fred Meyer since joining the Portland, Oregon-based retailer in 1982 as vice president and treasurer. He was appointed president of Fred Meyer Stores in late 1999. “We are grateful to Ken for his tremendous contributions to Fred Meyer and Kroger over the past several years,” said Mr. Dillon.

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kroger is one of the nation’s largest retail grocery chains. At the end of the third quarter, the Company operated 2,343 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under nearly two dozen banners, including Kroger, Fred Meyer, Ralphs, Smith’s, King Soopers, Dillon, Fry’s, City Market, Food 4 Less and Quality Food Centers. Kroger also operates 787 convenience stores, 396 fine jewelry stores, 87 supermarket fuel centers and 41 food processing plants.