CINCINNATI, April 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) today announced that Senior Vice President Robert "Pete" Williams plans to retire in May after 37 years with the company. Upon graduating from the University of Mississippi, Mr. Williams began his Kroger career in 1977 as a management trainee in Memphis, Tenn with the company's Delta division. Beginning in 1978 he held a variety of human resources leadership roles, working his way up to serve as director of labor relations at the company's general office in 1987. He moved back to Atlanta three years later, where he spent the next several years serving as vice president of operations and vice president of merchandising, before being promoted to president of Kroger's Mid-Atlantic division in 1998. Mr. Williams has served in his current role since 2007. Today, he leads seven supermarket divisions. His replacement will be named at a later date. "Throughout his extraordinary career, Pete's leadership has reflected his passion for our associates, customers and local communities. He has been a tremendous asset to our company and will be missed," said Mike Ellis, Kroger's president and chief operating officer. "Whether developing associates and fostering career paths for many people within the company, or influencing Kroger to improve the customer experience, Pete led with a contagious enthusiasm and steady presence. We thank Pete for his many years of dedicated service and wish him and his wife, Jennifer, the very best in retirement." Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers, employs more than 375,000 associates who serve customers in 2,640 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 786 convenience stores, 320 fine jewelry stores, 1,240 supermarket fuel centers and 38 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.