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Haggen Inc. hires new CEO

Bellingham-based Haggen Inc. has reached out to someone with plenty of specialty store experience as its new CEO.

Haggen's board of directors selected John Clougher to lead the grocery store chain, it was announced Friday, Aug. 15. He replaces the Office of the Presidents position, which was comprised of Clement Stevens, John Turley and Ron Stevens.

Clement Stevens and Turley remain with the company as senior vice presidents, while Ron Stevens, who was the company's chief financial officer, left the company a few months ago. Blake Barnett replaced him as CFO.

Clougher has an extensive background that may fit with Haggen's goal of being a high-quality regional grocer. He has more than 30 years of grocery-related experience and most recently was the CEO of Andronico's Community Markets in the San Francisco area. Before Andronico's, Clougher was the Northwest regional president for Whole Foods Markets.

Clougher is expected to join Haggen on Sept. 8.

"John is the ideal leader to help us further establish Haggen as the premier grocer in the Pacific Northwest," said John Caple, a member of the Haggen board, in a news release. "His diverse skill set encompasses the grocery and specialty food industries with deep knowledge of the Pacific Northwest grocery landscape."

Haggen has operated with three people leading the company since December 2012, working as a transition team while an extensive search was done for a new CEO.

The company was active with the transition team in place, revamping each of the stores with a Northwest Fresh theme. The company also closed several under-performing locations, including eight stores in 2013. The company currently has 18 stores in Washington and Oregon. Of those 18 stores, 16 have been rebranded with the Northwest Fresh theme.

The transformation plan has given the company the opportunity to invest in the successful stores, which has led to improving sales, said Clement Stevens.

"Our guests have been responding well to all the updates we've made in our stores," he said.

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