MEMPHIS — Mike Bloom has been named chief executive officer of 651-store Fred’s Inc. He succeeds Jerry Shore, who is retiring.
Bloom, who joined Fred’s as president and chief operating officer in January 2015, has worked closely with Shore on building a strong management team to ensure a smooth and effective transition. Bloom will lead a team including new front store and pharmacy chief operating officers and a new chief merchant.
“Jerry and Mike have worked side by side for nearly two years; we are fortunate to have had Jerry’s successor in place for this transition,” said Fred’s chairman Thomas Tashjian. “With more than 30 years of experience in small-box retail, throughout merchandising, marketing, supply chain and store operations, Mike has proven himself as a strategic, innovative and effective leader.”
Tashjian called Bloom “the architect of the transformation taking place in our front store. Our board and the company’s entire management team are enthusiastic and confident about the capabilities and vision that Mike brings to the CEO position.”
Bloom called Fred’s second quarter $6.9 million loss and 3% same-store sales decline in August disappointing, saying that despite progress on front-store gross margins and operating profit, “the headwinds in pharmacy and competitive pressures in the front store were deeper than anticipated.”
Bloom formerly was president and COO of Family Dollar Stores Inc. and the top merchandising and supply chain executive at CVS Caremark Corp.
“I am honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to lead this great organization and talented team through this exciting time,” he said. “I am confident that the strategies we are laying out and the investments we are making will further evolve this unique business model — as a regional provider of health care services and value merchandise in the markets that we serve — and will position us to realize long-term sustainable growth.”
Bloom joined Family Dollar in 2011 after serving as CVS’ executive vice president of merchandising, supply chain, marketing and advertising. He was promoted to that post in March 2010 after serving as senior vice president of merchandising and supply chain. Bloom began a 20-year career with CVS in store operations and progressed through various positions with increasing responsibility, including category manager, vice president of consumer health care and senior vice president of merchandising. Before joining CVS, he spent 10 years as a manager/executive with Virginia-based Peoples Drug Stores, and with Florida stores then operated by Shoppers Drug Mart.
Promoted with Bloom at Fred’s was Craig Barnes, who was named to the newly created role of front store COO. Barnes had been executive vice president of supply chain, global and domestic logistics. He will be responsible for merchandising, marketing, supply chain, store operations and real estate, and will report directly to Bloom.
“I am pleased that Craig will be assuming increased responsibilities within our organization as we continue to position the company for the opportunities that lie ahead and develop the strategies and tactics to deliver long-term, sustainable and profitable growth,” Bloom said. “Over the past 18 months, Craig and I have formed a trusted business relationship, as he has become a thought leader for our organization. He is the go-to resource for our team, with an insightful, strategic and clear vision of our customer and our stores.
“Craig has demonstrated his leadership abilities, in both team building and laying the groundwork for process improvements and enhanced supply chain strategies,” Bloom continued. “In doing so, he and his team have cut supply chain costs, delivered significant efficiencies and improved the service we deliver to our stores.”
Earlier last month, Timothy Liebmann was promoted to the newly created role of pharmacy COO. Liebmann, who had been vice president of pharmacy services, succeeded Rick Chambers, who is retiring.
Liebmann and Barnes “will work to leverage the synergies that exist between our front store and pharmacy,” said Bloom. He expressed “great confidence” in Liebmann’s “ability to develop the vision and strategy necessary to energize both retail and specialty pharmacy growth at Fred’s.” Liebmann “is a great addition to our leadership team and has, through experience, developed a keen focus on the importance of the shared and separate interests of patients and physicians,” Bloom added.
Shore said the company was “very pleased to be able to promote a veteran with more than 25 years of leadership in the pharmacy industry to this important role. Tim has an impressive track record, spanning a broad range of expertise and experience that includes all aspects of pharmacy management as well as financial and operational management. We are confident that he will continue to build on our mission to improve lives of patients and customers by providing quality health care services.”
Prior to joining Fred’s in June 2016, Liebmann was with SUNRx LLC, a pharmacy benefits manager and wholly owned subsidiary of MedImpact Healthcare Systems. Liebmann founded SUNRx in 2007 and served as its chairman and CEO until the company’s acquisition by MedImpact in 2012, after which he served as vice president of pharmacy.
Also in August, Fred’s promoted Mary Lou Gardner to executive vice president/chief merchandising and marketing officer. Gardner, who had been senior vice president/strategy/project management, replaced Bryan Pugh, who resigned.
Gardner, who joined Fred’s this year, had been at CVS Health, serving in capacities including divisional merchandising manager for beauty/personal care, senior director of inventory management, senior director of merchandising general merchandise/consumables, senior director for promotional optimization, and senior director for store brand innovation.
“She excels in the ability to lead and rally a team around a common purpose, which explains her many diverse roles at CVS, where she was called on several times to lead key strategic initiatives,” said Bloom.