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PORTLAND, Ore. -- New Seasons Market CEO Lisa Sedlar is stepping down as president and CEO effective Nov. 2 to launch her own company of healthy convenience stores. The Portland, Ore.-based chain of 12 neighborhood grocery stores will be a minority investor in Sedlar's company and is conducting a search for a new CEO.
Sedlar noted that the locally owned and operated supermarket chain is in a strong position, making this an appropriate time to make the change. "I love New Seasons Market and am proud of the work we have done together to strengthen the company, the regional food economy and the local community," she said. "We have an incredible staff of talented and committed people who live and advance our mission every day."
Under her leadership, New Seasons Market has grown to nearly 2,400 employees, and opened eight stores with two more slated to open over the next two years. She has also worked on increasing food security.
In her new endeavor, Sedlar plans to infuse her strong beliefs about food grown, raised or produced locally to the convenience store format. She envisions a chain of small neighborhood stores stocked with healthy options, such as locally cured salami instead of Slurpees and gourmet cheese instead of the liquid variety.
Sedlar told The Oregonian that she plans on offering a well-stocked meat counter and healthy meals to go, as well as local produce and good coffee for commuters. Along with neighborhoods -- starting in the Portland area -- she sees the need for her idea in airports and college campuses.
Sedlar said she's in the midst of negotiations on her first location. The new business is licensed with the state as Modern Convenience Food Stores, though she hasn't yet settled on a name -- a task she may let be decided by a community naming contest.
"I'm realizing a lifelong dream," she said, noting that her original inspiration for this new company came while working as an executive with a pharmacy chain in Boulder, Colo., where she saw a steady stream of college kids go in and out of a local gas station's convenience store.
"These kinds of stores usually survive on sales from cigarettes and 40-ouncers (of beer)," Sedlar said. "I remember thinking how great it would be if they could be convenient and have good meat and produce."