As a longtime Kroger executive retires, the retailer is promoting one of its own to succeed him.
Steve McKinney, senior vice president of retail divisions, will be retiring after more than 40 years at Kroger, effective Aug. 7. Kroger said Valerie Jabbar, currently group vice president of center-store merchandising, would be moving into McKinney’s role following his departure.
McKinney joined Kroger in 1981 as a clerk with former banner Florida Choice Supermarkets, moving up the ranks to become a store manager, buyer and field representative before moving into leadership positions with Fry’s Food Stores. By 1998, he was vice president of operations for Fry’s. After serving as vice president of operations for the Southwest division and then Ralph’s, McKinney was named Fry’s president in 2013. He entered his current role in 2018.
"Steve is an accomplished leader who has inspired generations of associates to achieve excellence while mentoring many into leadership positions,” Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said. “As a leader who worked in numerous positions and took on new responsibilities, he also committed to the mentoring and development of any associate interested and willing to grow with the company. We thank Steve for his dedication throughout the years and wish him all the best in retirement.”
Jabbar has a similar long pedigree with Kroger. She began her career as a Fry’s clerk in 1987, moving through several leadership positions in that division until 2012, when she joined the Mid-Atlantic division as vice president of merchandising, a role she would hold at Ralphs beginning in 2013. In 2016, Jabbar was named president of Ralphs and in 2018 became group vice president of merchandising, ultimately settling into her current role in 2019.
In her new role, Jabbar will oversee several Kroger retail divisions.
"Valerie is a dedicated leader who provides strong results through her passion for people – both associates and customers. Her proven success of building highly motivated teams and executing with excellence will foster an energy and commitment to continue delivering a full, fresh and friendly experience for every customer in the divisions she will lead," said Mary Ellen Adcock, Kroger's senior vice president of operations. "Valerie's 34 years of experience with the company bring a deep understanding of the business and will provide yet another valuable perspective among our senior leadership team."
In addition to her work with Kroger, Jabbar is a board member of the Network of Executive Women and has twice been named one of sister publication Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery. She has been the Shelby Report’s West Woman of the Year and received the California Conference for Equality and Justice’s Humanitarian Award. Jabbar also has been designated an executive in residence for the USC Marshall School of Business Food Industry Executive Program.