American Stores Co. has formed a new senior management team that will take over the chief executive duties of company chairman L.S. "Sam" Skaggs "as he moves to a less active operating role consistent with his future plans."

A spokesman for American Stores said the company's board of directors asked Skaggs to remain as chairman and to serve on the board for a minimum of four years "to ensure a smooth transition for the new corporate management team."Although American Stores has moved its corporate headquarters from Salt Lake City to Irvine, Calif., Skaggs still maintainsa home and office in Salt Lake.

New chief executive officer succeeding Skaggs is Jonathan L. Scott, vice chairman and a close associate of Skaggs since 1962. He and the other appointees will assume their new positions Jan. 29.

Victor L. Lund will continue to serve as vice chairman and chief financial officer and was elected by American Stores' directors to serve as chief financial and administrative officer.

Alan D. Stewart was elected president and chief operating officer and was also named a director of the company.

Skaggs said the appointments ensure that American Stores has changed its corporate structure from "founding family management" to "a well-rounded and seasoned professional management team."

He said the company's long-term strategy has been to operate through a holding company structure. "A key to our success has been knowledgeable management which understands the holding company's relationships with our operating companies and has the neccessary expertise in the retail food and drug industry."

The new appointees, Skaggs said, have worked with him in moving the company into its current position as industry leader. "I am confident of this new corporate management team's ability to build American Stores Co. to the benefit of our shareholders, our companies and the customers they serve," he said.

Scott said he believes that building value for American Stores' shareholders can best be achieved by providing the capital, controls and administrative efficiencies inherent in the holding company concept.

"The senior management team . . . is well positioned to carry on the business philosophy and principles on which Mr. Skaggs built American Stores Co." said Scott. "In recent years we have taken the necessary steps, including market expansion, to assure that the company is well positioned in the food and drug store retailing business."

James H. Henson, 55, currently chairman and chief executive officer of Jewel Food Stores, a wholly owned subsidiary, was elected to the corporation's board of directors and was named chairman and chief executive officer of subsidiary American Super-stores to succeed Scott.

Scott, 58, began his career in food retailing in 1955, serving as vice chairman and chief executive officer of Albertson's Inc., and chairman and chief executive of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.

While with Albertson's, Scott worked with Skaggs in pioneering the development of what American Stores terms "the nation's first successful combination drug and food and stores."

More recently, Scott served as vice chairman of the board, executive vice president of American Stores and chairman and chief executive officer of the company's subsidiary American Superstores Inc., with $7 billion in sales. American Superstores, consists of Acme Markets, Jewel Food Stores and Star Markets Co.

Lund, 41, joined American Stores in 1977 after having been associated with the company for five years as an audit executive with Ernst & Whinney, public accounting firm. He is also vice chairman of Alpha Beta Stores Inc., the company's western food and drug retail firm with $2.5 billion in sales.

Stewart, 46, began his career with Alpha Beta Co. in 1961. He served in various executive management positions with Alpha Beta, American Stores and is said to have worked closely with Scott, as president and chief operating officer of American Superstores.

The spokesman said appointments of Stewart and Henson to the American Stores board is effective immediately while the management appointments will be effective Jan. 29.