The Pantry's SVP of Operations Steps Down

Venezia leaving "to pursue another career opportunity"

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

Mitch Morrison, Vice President of Retailer Relations

Joe Venezia

Joseph Venezia

CARY, N.C. -- As The Pantry convenience store chain faces a board of directors proxy battle, it also is seeing some turnover in its highest ranks.

The convenience store chain reported in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing this week that its senior vice president of operations, P. Joseph Venezia, is resigning effective Friday, Feb. 14, to pursue another career opportunity.

While the SEC filing furnishes little addition information, the decision, according to sources, came abruptly and less than 18 months after Venezia joined The Pantry.

Venezia arrived in September 2012, succeeding Brad Williams. His appointment drew praise from The Pantry CEO Dennis Hatchell, who said at the time, “Joe is a proven leader with an impressive blend of operating and brand management experience. … He is ideally suited to lead operations at The Pantry with a successful track record of growing retail and consumer goods sales.”

Venezia previously worked at TitleMax and Walmart, where he served in several regional general positions before being appointed to division president of the northeast division.

Concerning Venezia’s departure, Hatchell issued an internal memo obtained by CSP Daily News heralding Venezia’s accomplishments. “During his tenure with the company, Joe has made a significant impact on our organization by revamping our store staffing model, increasing our focus on sales and improving operational execution. Joe will be around through next week so please, take the time to wish him well in his new endeavor.”

Venezia’s departure comes as The Pantry, an operator primarily of Kangaroo Express convenience stores with a portfolio in excess of 1,500 sites, continues to struggle to pare down debt and leverage its scale.

Venezia led the company’s store operations, focusing on driving sales, improving store productivity and leading the store operations team. Recent operational decisions are among those being questioned by a group of Pantry investors seeking to put three executives on the Pantry's board of directors this quarter.

"In our view, Pantry is deeply undervalued as a result of poor investment and operational decisions that have destroyed shareholder value," the investor group, calling itself Concerned Pantry Shareholders, said in a statement in January. "We believe substantial shareholder representation is needed on the board to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to drive better financial performance and create value for all shareholders."

It is not known whether Venezia's departure is in anyway influenced by the investor challenge. Hatchell did say in the company memo that Venezia had accepted a position outside of the convenience store channel.

Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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Mitch Morrison Winsight CSP By Mitch Morrison, Vice President of Retailer Relations
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