Kroger's Chief Digital Officer to Succeed Retiring CIO

Cyndi Loza
Associate Editor, Path to Purchase Institute
Cyndi Loza profile picture
Yael Cosset

Kroger's chief digital officer, Yael Cosset, will succeed retiring Christopher Hjelm, executive vice president and chief information officer, effective May 1.

As senior vice president and cio, Cosset will assume responsibility for the Kroger Technology function in addition to his current Kroger Digital portfolio – underscoring the strategic integration of digital and technology initiatives to deliver customers anything, anytime, anywhere. 

"[Cosset] is driving Kroger's business forward in support of Restock Kroger," chief executive officer Rodney McMullen said in a media release. "He is a passionate advocate for applying technology, innovation and customer science to make a difference in the lives of our customers. [Cosset] has the qualifications, skills and strategic mindset to ensure technology and digital are key accelerators of Kroger's future success."

Cosset was elected group vice president and chief digital officer in January 2017, where he has been successfully leading Kroger's digital growth strategy. He previously served as chief commercial officer and cio of 84.51° since its inception in 2015. Prior to this, he held several leadership roles at dunnhumby, including evp of consumer markets, global chief information officer, and ceo of KSS Retail, a global enterprise software provider of price modeling and optimization solutions for retailers worldwide.

Hjelm joined Kroger as svp and cio in 2005, after an extensive career in technology, including key senior executive roles at FedEx, Orbitz, and eBay. He was promoted to evp in 2015. Hjelm will remain evp, reporting to McMullen, until his retirement on Aug. 1.

"[Hjelm] has been a key member of the senior leadership team at Kroger for over a decade, playing a transformational role in making Kroger a respected technology company," said McMullen in the release. "We are grateful for his leadership during this important time in our company's history. We know [Hjelm] will enjoy spending more time with his new granddaughter and close-knit family in retirement, while continuing to pursue his on-going entrepreneurial technology interests."

In related news, Kroger also announced it has appointed Stuart Aitken to the newly created role of svp, alternative business.

Effect Feb. 3, Aitken will assume oversight for the company's successful existing alternative profit businesses, including 84.51° and Kroger Personal Finance, and also lead the development of a full portfolio of alternative businesses to support the transformation of Kroger's growth model. Aitken will continue to serve as chief executive officer of 84.51° and oversee Kroger's marketing function.

Aitken was elected group vp in 2015 and has been responsible for leading Kroger's data analytics subsidiary, 84.51°, as its ceo since its inception that same year. In addition, Aitken has been helping transform Kroger's marketing efforts as chief marketing officer since 2017. Prior to this, he served as the chief executive officer of dunnhumbyUSA since 2010. Aitken has more than 15 years of marketing, academic and technical experience across a variety of industries, and held various leadership roles with other companies, including Michael's Stores and Safeway, Inc.

"[Aitken] is a dynamic leader with a proven track record of value creation in businesses that further monetize Kroger's successful core," said McMullen in a media release. "Throughout his time at 84.51° and as a member of Kroger's senior leadership team, Stuart has been instrumental to the successful development and growth of the alternative profit stream portfolio. That portfolio makes the transformation of Kroger's growth model possible, by developing successful asset-light, margin rich businesses."