Former Food Lion CEO Tom Smith dies

"During his 29 years of service, he made significant contributions to the company," Food Lion said.
Food Lion storefront
Former Food Lion CEO Tom Smith died on Friday. / Photo courtesy of Food Lion

Tom Smith, a former CEO of Food Lion, died Friday following a “a long battle with a terminal illness and a brief time in hospice,” according to local media reports.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our former CEO and leader Tom Smith, who played an instrumental role in the growth and success of Food Lion," Salisbury, North Carolina-based Food Lion said in a statement. "During his 29 years of service, he made significant contributions to the company. His dedication, hard work and passion were invaluable in propelling Food Lion forward. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and former colleagues during this time. His legacy will forever be remembered and cherished within our Food Lion family.”

Smith began his career in the grocery industry as a bagger for Food Town, which eventually became known as Food Lion. He worked his way up to become a store manager while pursuing his college studies. Following his graduation from Catawba College in Salisbury in 1964, Smith spent the next several years at Del Monte Sales Co.

In 1970, Smith returned to Food Lion as a buyer at the grocery retailer’s corporate headquarters, where he continued to rise through the ranks, holding various positions. He assumed the title of CEO in 1986, serving in that post until his retirement in 1999.

Smith followed in the footsteps of Food Lion founder Ralph Ketner by offering low prices to shoppers. He was also instrumental in Food Lion’s growth by focusing on expanding its store count, which topped 1,000 locations upon his retirement.

Active in his community, Smith was recognized by the Salisbury Symphony for his dedication to the arts.

“Tom's unwavering dedication and love for our community were evident in his tireless efforts to uplift the arts and inspire creativity in everyone he encountered. His kindness, generosity and infectious enthusiasm touched countless lives, leaving an indelible impact that will forever be cherished,” Salisbury Symphony recently posted on its Facebook page.

Part of Ahold Delhaize USA, Food Lion continues to be the company’s strongest performer. Overall, Food Lion operates more than 1,100 supermarkets in 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states and employs more than 82,000 workers.



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