Steve Burd, chairman of Safeway Inc for the past 11 years, staved off shareholder threats to remove him from his position. At a May 20 meeting, Safeway management announced that 83% of shareholders had voted to re-elect him.
Since the end of 2000, two-thirds of Safeway’s market value has vanished—or more than $20 billion of shareholder money. The Pleasanton CA-based grocery giant sustained losses of more than $998 million in the past two years, as supermarket takeovers initiated by Burd in Illinois and Texas failed to materialize.
Burd said he believes Safeway will revive from its slump as it lessens the wage disparity with competitors that use non-union employees. Safeway spends an average of $8.59 per hour more on employee wages and benefits than non-union operators, Burd said to shareholders.
The company is recovering from a bitter 4-1/2-month strike that so far has resulted in losses of $225 million.