After announcing its CEO succession plan on Sept. 20, in conjunction with news of the pending retirement of longtime Kroger (NYSE:KR) veteran and CEO David Dillon effective Jan. 1, Kroger said in a statement today it has promoted Michael Ellis to president and COO beginning Jan. 1, rounding out its senior management team.

Ellis, prior to his current role as senior vice president of Retail Divisions, was president of Fred Meyer for six years, Kroger's highest revenue-generating unit, according to the company. Kroger closed the $8 billion, all-stock deal for Fred Meyer in 1999. Counting his tenure with Fred Meyer, Ellis has spent 38 years with Kroger, the company said in its statement, beginning as a clerk in 1975.

Ellis replaces former Kroger president and COO Rodney McMullen, who will take over for Dillon as CEO on Jan. 1. Ellis' appointment is subject to approval from the Kroger board of directors, which will be voted on at its next board meeting, scheduled for December.

Dillon commented on the promotion of Ellis, saying, "Mike's broad-based experience on both the food and general merchandise sides of our business make him a great fit for this role."