LOUISVILLE, Ky., May 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kroger Co. has announced the retirement of Mid-South Division President John Hackett. John began his career with Kroger in 1963 as a store clerk in London, Ohio working his way through college at The Ohio State University. Following graduation he entered the Kroger management training program in 1968 which led to a variety of marketing and operations roles in the Columbus and Indianapolis divisions. In 1984, John was promoted to Director of Merchandising of the Louisville division. In 1990 he was promoted to division president where he oversaw the merger of the Louisville and Nashville divisions to create the Mid-South division. According to Kroger President and Chief Operating Officer Rodney McMullen, "During his 50-year career, John has consistently demonstrated his passion for and commitment to our associates, our customers and our local communities. In addition to being a great executive, John is a first class human being and person. When you define a gentleman the definition is John Hackett. We thank John and his wife Kay for their many years of dedicated service and wish them the best in retirement. I am sure John will remain involved in serving the Kroger family through his community service, passionately advocating for the causes that matter deeply to John and his family." John has served as the division's president for 23 of his 50 years at Kroger. Through his entire career, John has always welcomed change and been passionate about growing the business. During his 29 years in Louisville, the division grew from 55 stores to 161 and sales increased more than ten-fold. Under his watch the Mid-South division pioneered self-checkout, opened the company's first Kroger fuel station and the first Little Clinic. John also led an associate safety initiative that reduced accidents by 70% and became a model for the entire Kroger company. John is known for his compassionate leadership and the development of those who work with him. He serves on the Board of Overseers for the University of Louisville and is Board Emeritus for the Dare to Care Food Bank. He served as a trustee for the Louisville Urban League and is a former board member of Bellarmine University, the Louisville Economic Development Association, and the Metropolitan College Steering Committee. He also served as president, chairman and director of the Kentucky Retail Federation. John has been married to his wife Kay for 45 years. They are the proud parents of two grown children, Ann and John, and have 6 grandchildren.