CINCINNATI, Dec. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) today announced the promotion of Mark Tuffin to senior vice president of retail divisions. He succeeds Michael Ellis, who will become Kroger's president and chief operating officer on January 1, 2014. Mr. Tuffin, 53, has been president of the company's Smith's Food and Drug Stores division since 2011. He brings more than 32 years of grocery industry experience to his new role. He held various positions with other supermarket retailers before joining Smith's Food and Drug Stores in 1996, where he held several key leadership roles including vice president of merchandising. In 2009, Mr. Tuffin was named vice president of transition for Kroger. In this role, he led Kroger's efforts to implement significant organizational changes between all areas of the business. "Mark is an exceptional leader with an extensive knowledge of the grocery industry," said Mr. Ellis. "He has made significant contributions to our company and industry, while always championing our Customer 1 st strategy. We look forward to Mark's leadership in this senior role as we continue to accelerate Kroger's growth." Mr. Tuffin and his wife, Tami, will relocate to Cincinnati in 2014. Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers, employs 343,000 associates who serve customers in 2,414 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 786 convenience stores, 327 fine jewelry stores, 1,218 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S. Recognized by Forbes as the most generous company in America, Kroger supports hunger relief, breast cancer awareness, the military and their families, and more than 30,000 schools and grassroots organizations. Kroger contributes food and funds equal to 200 million meals a year through more than 80 Feeding America food bank partners. A leader in supplier diversity, Kroger is a proud member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber's Million Dollar Club. Smith's is a division of The Kroger Co. Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Smith's 15,000 associates serve customers in 133 stores throughout 7 western states. For more information about Smith's, please visit www.smithsfoodanddrug.com. SOURCE The Kroger Co.