John V. Shields Jr., former CEO of Trader Joe’s Dies

John SHields

John V. Shields Jr., former Chief Executive Officer of Trader Joe’s Company, passed away on Fri, October 31, 2014 after a long illness. John was 82-years-old and lived in Thousand Oaks, CA at University Village. John received his bachelor degree in 1954 and MBA in 1956 from Stanford University. After serving as an artillery lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he started his business career with Macy’s in 1958. When he left Macy’s after 20 years, he was the Senior Vice President of Operations. He moved to Mervyn’s in 1978 where he spent the next nine years and retired in 1987 as the Vice President of Operations; John’s retirement lasted only five weeks.

Shields’s former fraternity brother, Joe Coulombe, offered him the position of President of the Trader Joe’s Company. During his tenure, from 1988 to 2001, sales surged from $132 million annually to more than $2 billion, the retailer became a Private Brand trailblazer and the chain grew from 27 stores to a 158 stores in 13 states. He was named the Master Entrepreneur of the Year in 1993, and in 1994, the Institute of Retail Management at California State University, L.A, honored him as the Retailer of the Year.

Shields retired in 2001. Sons John Shields III and Michael Shields; daughters Kathleen Shields and Karen Haake; and five grandchildren survive him.



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Christopher Durham

Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan).

Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s.
Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago.

Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.