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Flexibility is an essential in retailing.

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- Like many executives who have spent most of their professional lives in the supermarket business, Warren Bryant started out as a youngster bagging groceries at a supermarket in southern California. In that initial job he encountered the first of a succession of managers and executives who would teach and influence him.

"I've been blessed with a number of excellent retail managers and leaders in my career," he recalls. "Including my first store manager and first district manager: Don Catherwood and Bob Batson. They taught me to work hard, how to be efficient and how to focus on the customer. They had a great influence on me."

Most of Bryant's career before taking the reins at Longs was spent in the Kroger Co., the nation's largest supermarket operator. In the course of his career there he was exposed to several different parts of the country. "All customers want to be treated well and they all want good service, but there is enormous variation in the products and specific services they want," he points out.

The importance of flexibility was just one of the benefits Bryant gained from working with Richard Koster, now retired but a longtime executive in merchandising and operations at Kroger. "Dick taught me the importance of innovation and creativity in merchandising," he says.

From Lyle Everingham, former chief executive officer of Kroger, Bryant learned some vital lessons about the importance of listening to people and giving them the freedom to make their best efforts. And during his tenure at Kroger's Dillon Cos. subsidiary, Bryant learned a subtle but valuable behavioral insight: Emotions and attitudes are much more powerful than reason and logic in shaping people's behavior.

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Title Annotation:Warren Bryant of Kroger Co.
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 17, 2005
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