The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) yesterday announced that James W. Hallsey has been promoted to president of Smith’s Food & Drug Stores in Salt Lake City, Utah, effective immediately. He succeeds Russ Dispense, who last week was appointed president of King Soopers in Denver, Colorado.

Mr. Hallsey, 58, previously served as executive vice president of sales and marketing, a position he had held since 1998. He began his career in the grocery industry as a boy working in his father’s Tooele County store. Mr. Hallsey joined Smith’s in 1964 with Smith’s acquisition of Mayfair stores. Since then, he has held a variety of management positions in the corporate office including senior vice president drug division and senior vice president of special projects. From 1995 to 1998, Mr. Hallsey served as the company’s senior vice president and southwest regional manager from Smith’s regional office in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Jim is a seasoned retail executive who joined Smith’s 37 years ago,” said David B. Dillon, Kroger president and chief operating officer. “He knows the strengths of the organization and he’s well equipped to lead Smith’s associates as they build the business.”

Smith’s currently operates 116 combination food and drug stores in eight western states. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kroger is one of the nation’s largest retail grocery chains. At the end of the fourth quarter, the Company operated 2,354 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 789 convenience stores, 398 fine jewelry stores, 77 supermarket fuel centers and 42 food processing plants.