Barnes appointed to new role of COO for front store
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred’s Inc. president and chief operating officer Michael Bloom has been named as chief executive officer, succeeding Jerry Shore, who is retiring.
Bloom takes the CEO reins effective immediately, and plans call for Shore to retire from the company in February, Fred’s said Tuesday.
“I am honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to lead this great organization and talented team through this exciting time,” Bloom said in a statement. “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.”
Also on Tuesday, the pharmacy and discount store chain said it has promoted Craig Barnes, executive vice president of supply chain, global and domestic logistics, to chief operating officer for front store, a newly created position.
Fred’s said Bloom has worked closely with Shore on building a strong management team for a smooth leadership transition. Bloom joined Fred’s as president and COO in January 2015. Prior to that, he served as president and COO of Family Dollar Stores and earlier had a 20-year career at CVS Caremark, most recently as executive vice president of merchandising, supply chain, marketing and advertising.
“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,” Fred’s chairman Thomas Tashjian stated. “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. As our president and chief operating officer, Mike has been 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.”
Shore took the helm as Fred’s CEO at the beginning of 2015, succeeding Bruce Efird, who left the company when his contract expired at the end of 2014. Shore had been named COO in January and prior to that had served as executive vice president and chief financial officer for more than 14 years.
“I am very grateful for the time I have spent at Fred’s, the fine people I have come to know as colleagues, and the opportunities I have had to join with others in moving this company forward,” Shore commented. “Now, knowing that the leadership of Fred’s passes to the capable hands of Mike Bloom, I look forward to spending more time with my family and enjoying the many other interests that never seemed to fit into my hectic schedule.”
During Shore’s tenure, Fred’s pushed ahead with efforts begun under Efird by refocusing more of its business on pharmacy and health care. Those efforts included boosting the percentage of the retailer’s stores with pharmacies as well as the acquisition of specialty pharmacy EntrustRx, announced in March 2015.
“For 16 years, Jerry Shore has shown tremendous dedication to this company and has worked tirelessly for the benefit of its stakeholders,” Tashjian stated. “His financial and operational leadership has been exceptional, his contributions numerous, and his passion for improving Fred’s relentless. We are very grateful for his time here at Fred’s and are pleased that the Company will still benefit from his insight and experience as he works closely with Mike through year-end and as he continues to serve on the Board of Directors following retirement.”
In new role of COO for front store, Barnes will be responsible for merchandising, marketing, supply chain, store operations and real estate. He came to Fred’s in 2014 and previously held executive positions at AutoZone, CarQuest and Delphi Automotive.
Barnes’ new post follows the creation of the position of COO of pharmacy, to which Fred’s appointed Timothy Liebmann just over a week ago. Liebmann, who joined Fred’s in June as vice president of pharmacy services, succeeded the retiring Rick Chambers, executive vice president of pharmacy operations.
“Craig has demonstrated his leadership abilities, in both team building and laying the groundwork for process improvements and enhanced supply chain strategies,” Bloom commented. “In doing so, he and his team have cut supply chain costs, delivered significant efficiencies and improved the service we deliver to our stores. I expect that Craig, in tandem with Tim Liebmann, recently promoted to chief operating officer-pharmacy, will work to leverage the synergies that exist between our front store and pharmacy.”
Currently, Fred’s has 651 discount general merchandise stores and three specialty pharmacy-only locations in 15 Southeastern states, including 18 franchised locations. Its 372 in-store, full-service pharmacies include four franchised locations.