Patrick W. Collins, a longtime president of Ralphs Grocery Co., died May 16 of congestive heart failure at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, said his wife, Beth. He was 82.
Collins became president and chief operating officer in 1976 and was named vice chairman in 1993. He retired in 1994.
"He was one of the most intellectual leaders we've had in the industry," said Jack Brown, chairman and chief executive of the Stater Bros. supermarket chain and a longtime friend. Collins "established standards and particularly programs that evaluated customer service and evaluated the competition," Brown said. "He was an innovator."
During Collins' tenure, Ralphs led the supermarket industry in the development of an information technology department, Brown said, which resulted in such changes as using barcode scanning on items. Collins also kept a list of 800 store items that were surveyed weekly to compare Ralphs' prices with other grocery chains. "I'm sure he did that with all the competition," Brown said. "Pat knew our prices better than I did."
Patrick William Collins was born Feb. 5, 1929, in Aurora, Ill., the older of two sons of banker Alvan Collins and his wife, Evelyn. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from Beloit College in Wisconsin in 1951 and served in the Air Force from 1951 to '53.
Collins first worked for Red Owl grocery stores in Minneapolis. "He wanted to go into advertising and felt the best way to do that was to get retail experience," his wife said. "He found that he loved the business."
He left Red Owl in 1960 and owned his own stores in Green Bay, Wis., which he sold in 1968, and joined the Federated Department Stores in Cincinnati. Federated then also owned Ralphs, and in 1971 the Collins family moved to California and he became vice president of Ralphs' northern division. He served on the boards of the City of Hope and St. Joseph Hospital in Orange.
In addition to his wife, Collins' survivors include his brother, Michael; a daughter, Colleen Bauerlein, of Yorba Linda; a son, Quinn, of Malibu; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.