CINCINNATI — W. Rodney McMullen, currently the president and chief operating officer of The Kroger Co., will succeed David B. Dillon as chief executive officer of the company on Jan. 1, 2014. Mr. Dillon will continue as chairman of the board through Dec. 31, 2014, according to the company.

Mr. McMullen has been president and c.o.o. since 2009 and a director of the company since 2003. He previously held a variety of senior management positions, including vice-chairman; executive vice-president of strategy, planning, and finance; and chief financial officer.

Mr. Dillon has been c.e.o. of the retailer since 2003.

“As Kroger implements its strategic growth initiatives, the time is right for the transition of leadership,” Mr. Dillon said. “I am delighted that the board has elected Rodney McMullen to succeed me. Rodney has played a leadership role in every major decision Kroger has made for the past 25 years, including the development and implementation of Kroger's customer first approach as well as our current growth strategy. He is ready to be c.e.o. I have been honored to lead this great company for over 10 years and look forward to assisting Rodney and the board in the transition while continuing to serve as chairman.”