Publix store. Photo: Chet Meyerson Photo: Chet Meyerson

A longtime in-house lawyer at one of the nation’s largest supermarket chains has been promoted to vice president, general counsel and secretary effective May 31.

Lakeland-based Publix announced Merriann Metz will succeed the retiring John Attaway.

Metz joined Publix as a corporate attorney in 2006, serving most recently as assistant GC and assistant secretary since 2016, according to a company statement. Attaway, whose retirement is effective the same day as Metz’s promotion, has been with Publix for 21 years and is credited with starting the company’s corporate legal department. He has been in his current top lawyer spot since 2005.

Attaway and Metz had no comment by deadline.

Attaway ”has been instrumental in developing our legal team,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in the statement. “Throughout his career, he has taken on many additional responsibilities. I’m thankful for John’s contributions to the growth and success of Publix and wish him much happiness in the next chapter of his life.”

Metz, a 2002 graduate of Stetson University College of Law, came to Publix from Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed in Orlando.

“Merriann has a collaborative and thoughtful approach to everything she works on,” according to Jones. “I’m excited to see her take this next step in her career.”

That next step may come with a big paycheck. Daily Business Review affiliate ALM Legal Intelligence reported Attaway brought home $752,232 in total cash compensation in 2016 — a base salary of $690,310 and $61,922 in non-equity incentive, a form of pay made popular after the Dodd-Frank Act. It is discretionary and often performance-based.

The homegrown company founded in Winter Haven in 1930 had $34.6 billion in 2017 revenue. The company’s website reports 190,000 employees at 1,213 stores, led by 799 in Florida. Its South Florida distribution centers are in Deerfield Beach and Boynton Beach.