Retail company Shufersal (TASE: SAE), which runs Israel's largest chain of supermarkets, announced this morning that its CEO Itzhak (Itzik) Abercohen (66) had notified the company's chairperson and board of directors of his resignation. Abercohen will step down on March 31st.
"After ten years as CEO of the Shufersal group, and more than 21 years in which I have worked at the company in a variety of roles, I have decided that the time has come to close an amazing chapter in my life, a very challenging and satisfying chapter," Abercohen wrote.
The Shufersal board at its meeting this morning decided to form a search committee immediately to find Abercohen's replacement.
In a letter to Shufersal's employees, Abercohen expressed gratitude to the company's former controlling shareholder (through IDB) Nochi Dankner and former chairperson Rafi Bisker, who appointed him to the CEO post. "My entry into the position in January 2012 was at a difficult time for the company, and I end my tenure leaving behind a company that is healthy, strong, and professional," Abercohen wrote.
Abercohen is ending a long and very successful term as CEO, and is leaving behind him a strong company with a dominant online operation. He led the acquisition of the New Pharm chain and its rebranding, and also the expansion of Shufersal's own product brand.
Market sources say, however, that what brought about Abercohen's resignation announcement was the investigation that the Competition Authority began a few months ago of alleged price fixing, and also differences of opinion with Shufersal chairperson Yaki Vadmani. Abercohen is considered a very dominant CEO. A year ago, Shufersal finally became a company without a controlling interest, and Vadmani, who has a long history in retailing, was appointed chairperson.
The Competition Authority investigation and recent reports of differential pricing on the website through which Shufersal aims at the haredi community are believed to have led to friction between Abercohen and Vadmani, and brought forward Abercohen's departure, which he had planned anyway for the near future.
The company said in a statement, "Yaki Vadmani, the chairman of the board, the directors, management and all the staff at the Shufersal group thank Mr. Abercohen for his huge contribution to the company during his many years of work at it, ten of them as the company's CEO. Mr. Abercohen formulated and instilled at the company its core values — service and excellence, quality, fairness, innovation, Israeliness, and commitment to its employees, and led the company to excellence and many achievements, and its position as the outstanding and leading Israeli company in retail."