Shelley Broader, the 43-year-old architect behind the transformation of Kash n' Karry Food Stores into Sweetbay Supermarket, on Wednesday abruptly announced her resignation to surprised staffers.
She has been recruited to fill an executive post on June 15 with an unidentified retailer outside the supermarket industry. She leaves behind a big empty desk as president and chief executive of a Tampa grocer she helped pull from the ashes five years ago.
"Given our strong performance in today's weak spending environment, this company is in excellent hands and on a solid trajectory that will only get better when the economy turns," Broader said.
Her bosses at the Belgian Delhaize Group are expected to find a replacement from their U.S. operations, which includes Hannaford Bros. in New England and Food Lion in North Carolina.
"Her passion for the business helped build a new vital organization in a very short period of time," said Ron Hodge, chief executive of Hannaford.
A broadcast news major in college, Broader leaves Delhaize 17 years after a jump from investment banking.
In Tampa, Broader led the team that took over a local grocer that had spun through five owners in 15 years.
Upon arrival, Broader's team concluded Kash n' Karry was damaged beyond repair. They picked a new name and reinvented the look, character and selection of the chain.
The parent poured more than $350-million into rebuilding 107 Sweetbay stores. The chain enhanced profitability and stabilized its claim as the fourth-largest Tampa Bay food retailer.