Sterne Agee: DG COO Todd Vasos strong candidate for CEO


NEW YORK — Current Dollar General COO and Longs Drug Store veteran Todd Vasos is a likely candidate to succeed DG CEO Richard Dreiling, suggested Sterne Agee analyst Chuck Grom on Friday in a research note following a day of meetings with the leading dollar store retailer. 


While Dollar General hasn't tipped its hand as to who the successor may be — the announcement is expected in April, Grom noted — Vasos is a very familiar, and capable, candidate he said. "We believe Vasos’ experience leading the day-to-day blocking and tackling across the Dollar General organization make him an enviable candidate," Grom wrote. 


Grom disclosed that the three-person selection committee is comprised of Bill Rhodes, CEO of AutoZone and another Longs Drug veteran; Warren Bryant, former CEO of Longs Drug; and Mike Calbert, a former KKR partner. Grom expects the CEO transition to be smooth, which sets Dollar General up for success with both significant organic expansion opportunities and a more positive consumer outlook on the horizon. 


"The key sound bite from the meeting - 'There is no doubt the consumer is feeling better today' - sums up an extremely upbeat trip down to Goodlettsville," Grom said. "A good proxy for the strengthening consumer has been the improvement on the non-consumable side as of late, particularly the women’s apparel business. As a result, the company is beginning to layer in more SKUs on the discretionary side (i.e., housewares, home, domestics, apparel) to capture this sales (and margin) opportunity."


Grom noted that there is plenty of room for expansion in the U.S. marketplace, with more than 13,000 opportunities across the nation. "With peers Family Dollar and Dollar Tree likely to undergo a multi-year consolidation period (i.e., re-bannering, closing, fixing), it’s our view that DG sees this an opportunity to ramp growth – capturing better sites and market share along the way," Grom suggested. Dollar General has plans in place to grow square footage by roughly 6% in fiscal 2015 with some 730 new stores. Appoximately 900 additional new store openings are being targeted for fiscal 2016.


In addition to seizing an opporunity to grab the best dollar channel corners as Dollar General's chief competitor Dollar Tree/Family Dollar focuses on consolidation, Grom noted that the re-bannering of the merging dollar channel entities "should create another sales opportunity for DG, as more stores transform from Family Dollar into Dollar Tree locations, where the SKU overlap with Dollar General is significantly lower."


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