Jamba names Safeway vet CEO

EMERYVILLE Calif. James White, a former Safeway Inc. branding executive, was named president and chief executive of Jamba Inc., the parent of the 749-unit Jamba Juice chain, effective Dec. 1, officials said Tuesday.

White replaces Jamba’s interim chief executive and president Steven Berrard, who remains chairman of the company’s board. Berrard was filling in for former chief executive and president Paul Clayton, who resigned in August amid the beverage chain’s initial decline in sales and profits.

White joins Jamba as it still faces an uphill battle. On Monday, the company reported a third quarter net loss of $12.4 million and a same-store sales decline of 10.3 percent at corporate locations. The decline was based largely on difficult economic conditions in California, where the majority of Jamba's 520 company-operated units are based.

“I am very excited about joining the Jamba team and working with Steve and the board to drive performance improvement,” White said. “While there are clearly challenges ahead, I feel that Jamba is a world-class brand with unique growth and extension opportunities.”

Jamba officials have said they plan to continue turnaround initiatives to cut store-level costs and drive sales, including the possibility of new food product introductions.

White most recently was senior vice president of consumer brands at Safeway, the Fortune 100 food and drug retailer, where he developed product lines under the O Organic foods and Eating Right brands. Prior to that position, he was senior vice president of business development in North America for The Gillette Co. His resume also includes stints at Nestle Purina and The Coca-Cola Co.