CINCINNATI, Sept. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) today announced its Board of Directors' long-term CEO succession plan. David B. Dillon, 62, a 37-year Kroger veteran who has been serving as Chief Executive Officer since 2003, will retire as CEO on January 1, 2014, while continuing to serve as Chairman of the Board. Mr. Dillon will serve as Chairman through December 31, 2014. W. Rodney McMullen, 53, Kroger's President and Chief Operating Officer, will become CEO on January 1, 2014. Mr. McMullen joined Kroger in 1978 on a part-time basis on a stock crew and has been President and Chief Operating Officer since 2009 and a Director since 2003. He previously held a variety of senior management positions including Vice Chairman; Executive Vice President of Strategy, Planning, and Finance; and Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Dillon said, "As Kroger implements its strategic growth initiatives, the time is right for the transition of leadership. I am delighted that the Board has elected Rodney McMullen to succeed me. Rodney has played a leadership role in every major decision Kroger has made for the past 25 years, including the development and implementation of Kroger's Customer 1 st approach as well as our current growth strategy. He is ready to be CEO. I have been honored to lead this great company for over 10 years and look forward to assisting Rodney and the Board in the transition while continuing to serve as Chairman." Robert D. Beyer, Kroger's Lead Director, said, "On behalf of the Board, I thank Dave Dillon for an extraordinary job as CEO and throughout his distinguished career at Kroger. Under his leadership, the company has consistently delivered value for shareholders, customers, and associates. The Board has planned carefully for this leadership succession. We are confident Kroger will continue its growth momentum during the transition and under Rodney McMullen's leadership. Rodney has the right skills and experience to build on Dave's accomplishments and leverage Kroger's strong platform in the years ahead." Mr. McMullen said, "I am honored to have this unique opportunity to serve our company and gratified by the Board's confidence in me. I am excited to lead our efforts to build on Kroger's market position and competitive advantages to drive value for our shareholders and to strengthen our deep connection with our great associates, our millions of customers and the communities we call home."