Supervalu snags former OfficeMax exec

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Supervalu has appointed former OfficeMax executive Bruce Besanko as its EVP and CFO, effective August 7.

Besanko served as EVP of finance, CFO and chief administrative officer for OfficeMax, and is credited with strengthening the company’s balance sheet and transforming business-to-business and retail segments for one of the leading global office supply companies following his appointment in 2009.

"We thank Bruce for his many contributions to OfficeMax," said Ravi Saligram, president and CEO of OfficeMax. "He has successfully guided OfficeMax's financial functions, establishing a reputation for performance, accountability and transparency. As importantly, he has developed a strong and experienced leadership team who will continue leading our finance operations. We wish Bruce all the best in his new endeavors."

As OfficeMax progresses toward its proposed merger with Office Depot, Deb O'Connor, SVP, finance and chief accounting officer, will assume the role of interim CFO. A five-year veteran of OfficeMax, O'Connor previously served as SVP and controller of the ServiceMaster Company, one of the world's largest residential services networks.

"I am delighted to promote Deb and welcome her to our executive committee as we move through this transformative period and historic proposed merger with Office Depot," said Saligram. "Deb brings not only broad and deep financial experience, but also a very personal and hands-on knowledge of our business, markets and most critical strategic initiatives. She is uniquely qualified to serve in this role, and I am very confident she will continue to add tremendous value to our company and our shareholders."

“I’m very excited to welcome Bruce to Supervalu,” said Sam Duncan, president and CEO of Supervalu. “Having worked with him during a successful turnaround at OfficeMax, I know firsthand of his talent, financial acumen, commitment to success and overall work ethic — all of which will be critical as we continue our rebuilding efforts here at Supervalu.”

Prior to his work at OfficeMax, Besanko served as VP of finance and CFO for Circuit City Stores Inc. from 2007-2009, as well as SVP of finance and CFO for the Yankee Candle Company Inc. from 2005 to 2007. He also held financial leadership positions at Best Buy Co. Inc., Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Atlantic Richfield Company in the years prior.

In his role at Supervalu, Besanko will oversee the financial activities of the $17 billion grocery company and lead a team of nearly 700 financial professionals. He will work closely with Duncan to continue strengthening the company’s balance sheet and building financial strategies that support Supervalu’s future growth plans. Besanko follows current EVP and CFO Sherry Smith, who has held the role since 2010. Smith will continue in her role as CFO until August 6 and her last day with the company will be August 9.

Supervalu announced Smith was leaving the company by the end of May, as part of Duncan's shakeup of the executive team. The company then reportedly paid Smith $300,000 in addition to her salary to keep her on for a couple more months while their CFO search continued. 

“I especially want to thank Sherry for her many years of service to Supervalu and wish her all the best going forward,” said Duncan. “Sherry played an integral role in completing the disposition of the New Albertsons banners and helping reposition the company for the future. Her commitment toward improving our business and her leadership during the company’s transition period these past several months is greatly appreciated.”

Besanko earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology from the University of Cincinnati and holds a master of business administration degree in finance and strategy from the University of Chicago. Besanko also served in the U.S. Air Force for 26 years, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Supervalu Inc. is one of the largest grocery wholesalers and retailers in the U.S. with annual sales of approximately $17 billion. It has a network of approximately 3,420 stores composed of 1,900 independent stores serviced primarily by the company’s food distribution business, 1,332 Save-A-Lot stores, of which 957 are operated by licensee owners; and 191 traditional retail grocery stores. Headquartered in Minnesota, Supervalu has approximately 35,000 employees.