Longtime Kroger employee is named Dillon president

Joe Grieshaber has been named president of Kroger's Dillon Food Stores division. He replaces John Bays, who is retiring after 42 years with the company.

"I appreciate the heritage and the history of Dillon Food Stores," said Grieshaber, 52. "It's a very important organization for our company, and I'm thrilled to be joining the team all over Kansas."

Grieshaber begins work July 16 and plans to move his family to Hutchinson. He has been the company's group vice president for perishables merchandising and procurement since 2003.

Grieshaber began his Kroger career in 1983 as a store manager trainee in Nashville, Tenn. He has held a variety of leadership roles in the company, including vice president for merchandising, zone manager and meat merchandiser.

"Joe's merchandising and management expertise will serve our associates and customers well," Rodney McMullen, president and chief operating officer of Kroger, said in a statement.

Grieshaber called the grocery business "a battle every day."

"Customers vote every day with their purchases, and if they're buying products in your stores, they're voting with their dollars," he said. "It's a rapidly changing business requiring us to be better tomorrow than we were today."

Shoppers can expect more personalized stores from Grieshaber's Dillons.

"Our 'customer first' strategy allows us to do things that are important for customers in each market," he said. "What's appropriate on one side of town won't be exactly the same on the other, and I think you're seeing that in Wichita now.

"We have our Marketplace stores and more traditional stores customized to each neighborhood. If there's anything we're continuing to work on, I think it will be more of that."

Grieshaber said he wants to hear what store customers want.

"Our strategy puts the focus on what our customers tell us is important: great products, great associates, great service," he said.

"We think we have a winning combination. We have competitors that we'll continue to fight for market share, but our strategy is solid and it's proven itself over a number of years, in good times and in bad."