Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Marquee Name, but a Solid Record Kmart's New Boss Quietly Gets Things Done

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Marquee Name, but a Solid Record Kmart's New Boss Quietly Gets Things Done

Article excerpt

When Sir James Goldsmith tapped Floyd Hall to head Grand Union Co. more than 10 years ago, he seemed an improbable choice to resurrect a tired, money-losing supermarket chain.

Hall came from Dayton Hudson Corp.'s Target discount retailing chain with no food retailing experience.

What he did have, though, was the ability to focus on the customer and bring out the best in those under him, say executives who worked with Hall.

Under Hall's direction, the New Jersey-based chain opened new supermarkets and remodeled existing ones. Customer service improved and the stores stocked better quality, gourmet merchandise. It became one of the nation's most profitable supermarket chains.

"Floyd Hall is the best man I have ever employed," Goldsmith, a financier and former corporate raider, said of the former Grand Union chairman and chief executive.

The vast retail and team-building skills held by the man who began his career selling appliances at Montgomery Ward are greatly needed to help revitalize Kmart Corp.

The world's second-largest retailer, which has seen its profits decline for two years and market share erode, last week named the 56-year-old Hall its chairman, chief executive and president.

"I am a results-oriented team player," Hall said. "My approach is putting together a strong group of people and giving them the authority and the responsibility they need to do the job - and I like to hold them accountable for it."

Grand Union was quite a different challenge for Hall from Target. While heading the Dayton Hudson Corp. discount chain from 1981 to 1984, he expanded Target into California, more than doubled its stores and nearly tripled revenue to $3 billion. Grand Union, though, was a tired, money-losing chain whose competitors didn't view it as much of a threat. During his five years there, Hall turned it into the kind of chain its competitors wanted to copy. …

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