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  1. Business

CEO of Winn-Dixie's parent company steps down

Ian McLeod, is stepping down as the CEO of the parent company of Winn-Dixie. [Photo courtesy of Southeastern Grocers]

Ian McLeod has resigned as president and CEO of Southeastern Grocers, the Jacksonville-based parent company of Winn-Dixie grocery stores.

McLeod joined the company in late 2015. A Scotland native, McLeod came to Southeastern Grocers with a background in managing international grocery chains in Australia and England. He vowed to turn the tired Winn-Dixie chain around after it had been acquired by Bi-Lo Holdings and had bought out its competitor, Sweetbay Supermarkets, a few years prior to his arrival.

He's had mixed results with the initiatives he's lead for Winn-Dixie and Bi-Lo brands. McLeod is responsible for launching the company's Hispanic banner, Fresco Y Mas, a pilot chain of 18 grocery stores in South Florida. The Winn-Dixie chain also remodeled several stores under McLeod's watch, including its location in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Tampa, to better compete with many new boutique, organic grocer chains entering the market here. Winn-Dixie also tried to stand out on price by beefing up its private label brands and freezing prices on common staples items.

Previous Coverage: The new Winn-Dixie in South Tampa doesn't look like a Winn-Dixie, and that's by design

Most recently, Winn-Dixie abandoned its longstanding Fuel Perks program to launch a new customer perk program through a loyalty card partnership with a company called Plenti.

Winn-Dixie has struggled to stand out and boost profits in the competitive Florida market, where Publix dominates with shoppers and new competitors, from discount brands to high-end organic chains, continue to expand here.

McLeod will leave his post on June 30. Beginning July 1, Anthony Hucker, Southeastern Grocers' chief operating officer, will take over the role in the interim. Southeastern Grocers has begun the search for a new CEO, according to a press release.

Previous Coverage: Winn-Dixie axes Fuel Perks, to roll out new loyalty program with broader discounts

Neither McLeod nor Southeastern Grocers have announced what's next for the outgoing CEO.

"It has been a difficult decision to leave my role as president and CEO of Southeastern Grocers, but I believe the new position will be a positive opportunity for me and in the best interests my family," McLeod said in a statement. "I want to thank our thousands of loyal and dedicated associates — it's your hard work and dedication that has helped set this company on a path to an even brighter future. I have tremendous confidence in Anthony and the rest of the leadership team and I know that I'm leaving Southeastern Grocers in good hands."

Hucker has more than 18 years of experience the grocery business. Prior to joining Southeastern Grocers, he was the COO of Schnucks, a supermarket chain in the Midwest, worked in Walmart's strategy and business development division and spent 10 years as poart of the start up team for Aldi in the United Kingdom.

McLeod is the second grocery chain CEO to step down from his role this week. Rick Anicetti resigned from his post as CEO and the board of directors of The Fresh Market, the company announced late Monday.

Contact Justine Griffin at jgriffin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.

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