Lucky Stores Picks New Chief Executive

Times Staff Writer

Lucky Stores Inc. said Friday that it has named a new chief executive to succeed S. Donley Ritchey, who has asked for a "less active role" in the Dublin, Calif.-based company, which is the parent of Lucky supermarkets, Gemco and other retail chains.

Effective June 6, after the company's annual meeting, current President John M. Lillie, 47, will assume the additional duties of chief executive from Ritchey, 51, who will continue as chairman for a year.

"I've worked for Lucky virtually all my life," Ritchey said in a telephone interview. A 31-year veteran of the company, Ritchey joined it as a part-time worker at a market in San Diego and worked throughout college. "The part-time job turned out to be a good full-time job."

He added, however, that over the last five years as chief executive he has been working "all of the time."

"It got to the point where, frankly, I would like more personal time. Also, I long had sort of the notion that I would like to have the opportunity and work time left to do something entirely different. But I don't know what all that will be. It was not appropriate for me to look around."

Ritchey said he began discussing the idea of stepping aside "several months ago" with the board of directors. Other Lucky executives said it was well known within the company that Ritchey was interested in making the change.

The decision comes as Lucky continues a costly restructuring program, which has involved selling off various units such as Memco and Pic-A-Dilly and building up its supermarket business.

In the nine months ended Oct. 28, Lucky had sales of $6.62 billion and earnings of $58.2 million, which reflected a $4.7 million in non-recurring losses from Pic-A-Dilly before and including its sale. That compared to revenues of $6.06 billion and net income of $66.7 million in the same period the year before, when there was a $5.6-million non-recurring gain from the sale of Memco.

"Surely, I suppose I would like to go out on what amounts to an upswing as opposed to flat or down . . .," Ritchey said, "but from a personal standpoint, it is time to do this."

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