Sobeys’ newest division president is an experienced American grocery executive who started near the bottom and worked her way up to lead some of that country’s major supermarket chains.
Beth Newlands Campbell spent 27 years with New England grocer Hannaford Brothers and the U.S operations of its Belgian parent, Delhaize.
On Tuesday, Sobeys announced that it had hired her as president of its Ontario and Atlantic division. She will also sit on Sobeys’ leadership committee.
Newlands Campbell started with Hannaford out of university in the late 1980s. She enrolled in the company’s retail management training program, where, among other things, she worked the night shifts in stores and baked cakes. (Another Hannaford alumni to leap to Canada was former Walmart president Shelley Broader.)
From there, Newlands Campbell moved up the ladder at Hannaford and, later, Delhaize, (which bought Hannaford in 2000). In addition to store manager and district manager positions, she’s held down senior level jobs in marketing, merchandising and planning with the companies.
Newlands Campbell was president of Hannaford for two years, from 2010 to 2012, during which time Hannaford had 178 stores in New England and New York.
Most recently she was president of Food Lion, the Delhaize chain based in Salisbury, N.C. with more than 1,000 stores in the south and eastern parts of the U.S. She held the job from the end of 2012 to November 2014, when she left for "professional and personal reasons," she said in a statement at the time.
Food Lion had struggled in the years before Newlands Campbell took over, closing more than 100 stores and shuttering its Bloom banner. According to the Charlotte Observer, she “led Food Lion through a period of rapid change” in order to battle discounters such as Aldi and higher end supermarkets such as Publix.
“Staying the same is not an option,” she told the paper during that period. “Am I a change agent? Absolutely.”
A year ago, Delhaize announced it would merge with Dutch supermarket giant, Ahold, which also operates in the U.S. under banners such as Stop & Shop and Giant Food Stores.
At Sobeys, Newlands Campbell will oversee the company’s Ontario business as well as its operations in the Maritimes, where a year ago Sobeys took over the grocery and gas business of Co-op Atlantic.
In a statement, Marc Poulin, president and CEO of Sobeys, said Newlands Campbell’s “diverse experience and proven record in organizational growth and strategic planning will support” Sobeys in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. She will report to Poulin.
The appointment also got kudos from the American retail analyst Kevin Coupe on his Morning News Beat Wednesday morning. Coupe called the hire a “really smart move” by Sobeys.
“Beth is the kind of executive who won't be leading from some corporate tower. She'll be out in the stores, getting a feel for the company's employees, customers, and the communities it serves,” he wrote.
In February, Sobeys named Yves Laverdiere president of its Quebec business unit, while Jason Potter continues to head its Western unit. Potter had been interim head of the Atlantic/Ontario unit.
Newlands Campbell grew up in Pittsford, N.Y. and graduated from Cornell University.