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Safeway CEO Burd to Retire After 20 Years at Grocery Chain

Safeway Inc., the second-largest U.S. grocery-store chain, said Chief Executive Officer Steven Burd, 63, will retire in May after 20 years at the company.

The board will begin a search for a successor and will consider candidates from inside and outside the company, Pleasanton, California-based Safeway said yesterday in a statement. Burd, who is leaving to have more personal time and pursue his interest in health care, will retire at the company’s annual meeting on May 14.

Safeway’s revenue growth slowed to about 1.3 percent in 2012 from about 6.3 percent the previous year, while net income fell for a second straight year, based on analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The food retailer, along with other traditional supermarkets, is facing more competition from big-box discounters such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. and higher-end stores such as Whole Foods Market Inc.

While Burd helped turn around the business, he’s “come under a little fire in recent years,” said Joe Feldman, a New York-based analyst at Telsey Advisory Group. “There’s still opportunity to drive improved performance within the core supermarkets.”

Robert Edwards, Safeway’s chief financial officer, and Larree Renda, executive vice president, are possible CEO candidates, Feldman said.

Burd started at Safeway in 1992 as president and was promoted to CEO the next year. He became chairman in 1998. He also serves on the Kohl’s Corp. board.

Safeway fell 0.1 percent to $18.34 at the close in New York. The shares dropped 14 percent last year.

Kroger Co. is the biggest U.S. grocery-store chain.

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