American Stores Co. has elected three new directors to the board, a move the company said is consistent with its plan to increase the independence of the board and move toward limiting the number of directors from company management.

The new directors are Henry I. Bryant, Michael T. Miller, and Arthur K. Smith.Three directors from company management, Lawrence A. Del Santo, David L. Maher and Alan D. Stewart, have left the board to make way for the three new members, a spokesman said.

The only remaining management directors on the board are L.S. "Sam" Skaggs, chairman; Victor L. Lund, president and chief executive officer; and Donald B. Holbrook, executive vice president and chief legal officer.

Bryant, 50, is managing director of the Financial Institutions Group in the Corporate Finance unit of J.P. Morgan & Co. He is said to have extensive experience in the bank's corporate finance units, both in the United States and abroad. He is a graduate of Yale University and holds a masters degree in business administration from the University of Virginia. A native of Ohio, he resides in Riverside, Conn.

Miller, 52, a native of Salt Lake City, is president and executive director of the ALSAM Foundation, formerly the Skaggs Family Foundation, a private charitable foundation, which the spokesman said has "significant holdings" of American Stores Co. stock. Miller has 15 years experience with American Stores Co. and its subsidiary operations, having held a number of senior level positions including chief executive officer of two of the company's operating subsidiaries.

Smith, 55, is president of the University of Utah. Before his appointment to the university in 1991, he held the positions of interim president, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of South Carolina between 1988 and 1991. He holds a doctor of philosophy degree from Cornell University in International Politics and Law, Comparative Politics and Latin American studies. He is a native of Derry, N.H.