Indian American Vivek Sankaran is the new President & CEO of food and drug chain Albertsons

Vivek Sankaran
Vivek Sankaran; Photo credit: Albertsons

Sankaran, an alumnus of IIT Madras, previously served as the CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America.

Indian American Vivek Sankaran has joined Albertsons Companies, the largest food and drug retail chain in the United States, as its President and Chief Executive Officer.

The IIT Madras alumnus previously served as the Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo Foods North America.

Sankaran, who started his new job on April 25, now leads of a workforce of 270,000 employees.

Albertsons operates 2,269 stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under 20 well-known banners. Its retail brands include Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel Osco, Shaw’s, ACME, Tom Thumb, Randall’s, United Supermarkets, Market Street, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs. The Boise, Idaho,- based company also has 1,739 in-store pharmacies, 1,275 in-store branded coffee shops, and nearly 400 fuel centers.

“It is a great privilege to join a company that has such deep roots in American retail,” Sankaran, 55, said in a statement. Pointing out that Albertsons retail companies “have hundreds of years of combined history,” he said, “Our stores are integral to the lives of millions of customers each week. I’m excited to build on the legacies of past CEOs Bob Miller and Jim Donald who both laid a solid foundation for success, and look forward to working with our associates to realize the opportunities and navigate the challenges in our evolving industry.”

Donald, the outgoing CEO, said he is “looking forward to the continued progress of the company” under the new leadership.

“Vivek brings a rare blend of CPG, retail, manufacturing, logistics, technology, and research and development to Albertsons Companies, all of which are key components to being a successful retailer in an Omni Channel-driven environment,” he said. “Moreover, Vivek has the keen understanding that the front line is directly linked to the bottom line, and I’m confident he will inspire and engage our 270,000 associates across our stores, support offices, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers.”

Donald, who will continue as the co-chairman of the board, added: “Over the past year, our team made our company’s nearly 2,300 stores even stronger as we sharpened our focus on the intersection of technology and service… We continue to be well-positioned to serve the evolving needs of today’s customer, where, how and when they choose to shop with us.”

Sankaran, who was hired as the Chief Strategy Officer of PepsiCo in 2009 by its former CEO Indra Nooyi, had a 10-year career with the PepsiCo.

In December 2018, he was named CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America. Prior to that, for two years, he served as the company’s President and Chief Operating officer. Other positions he served at PepsiCo include Chief Commercial Officer, N.A.; Chief Customer Officer, Frito Lay; and SVP GM, South Business Unit, Frito Lay.

Before joining PepsiCo in 2009, Sankaran was a partner at McKinsey and Company, where he advised various Fortune 100 companies.

Sankaran earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in 1985. Before coming to the United States to enroll for a master’s degree in industrial engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1987, he worked for a Belgian company.

In 1993, he earned an MBA the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

Sankaran is involved in several philanthropic initiatives and organizations. He is a member of the board of directors of the New York-based Safe Water Network.

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