- Albertsons has named Jonathan Gardner as its new group vice president of strategic sourcing, according to a company release. In the newly created role, Gardner, who formerly served as Starbuck's sourcing director for IT and digital, will lead the expansion of Albertsons' goods not for resale division.
- Albertsons also promoted David Nelsen to group vice president of manufacturing. Nelsen has held various positions with the company's manufacturing division since 2001, and played a key role in introducing extended shelf life dairy products and plant-based offerings.
- "We’re focused on making moves that improve our productivity and agility so that we can strategically invest in our omnichannel future," Susan Morris, Albertsons' executive vice president and chief operations officer, said in a statement.
As a nine-year Starbucks veteran, Gardner has experience sourcing technology that powered one of the world's largest beverage brands. With Albertsons, he will be tasked with procuring the software, equipment and other operational assets that will fuel the grocers' push further into e-commerce while also keeping its store experience relevant.
Gardner will certainly have his work cut out for him. Albertsons has pushed ahead with home delivery and store pickup. It's also dabbling in bleeding-edge services and technologies like micro-fulfillment, order tracking and a subscription delivery program. The grocer has outsourced some capabilities to firms like Instacart and Takeoff Technologies, but with new CEO Vivek Sankaran emphasizing technology in his first earnings call last week, it seems the grocer wants to own more of its digital operations and, in turn, the customer experience.
Nelsen's promotion, meanwhile, underscores a continued push in private label. Albertsons has been beefing up its O Organics and Open Nature labels in addition to its premium lines like Primo Taglio and Waterfront Bistro, and no doubt wants to get ahead of competitors like Kroger and Target that are setting the pace. In its release, Albertsons credited Nelsen with making key innovations in categories like ice cream and Icelandic yogurt. He also played a pivotal role in setting up the company's Hatfield Milk plant.
From its assortment to its online assets, Albertsons is determined not to become a follower in the omnichannel grocery revolution. Sankaran expressed a desire to "elevate" the company's performance going forward, and that starts with the company's personnel.