Is Kroger the next Sears?
Probably not, but the 134-year-old grocery chain is in for a fight.
I wonder whether when Barney Kroger put his entire life savings of $372 dollars into a grocery store in 1883, he could have envisioned that this single store would exist today as nearly 2,800 stores in 35 states.
Yet, even with its strength, Kroger faces challenges on a number of fronts – from discount European retailers to WalMart.
This weekend The Wall Street Journal reported that in response to both a 35% slip in sales and Amazon’s entry into the grocery business, Kroger has been “slashing prices on staples, adding online ordering options and meal kits in some stores, and investing technology to better market to consumers.”
While Amazon’s announcement of its acquisition of Whole Foods sent shockwaves through the grocery industry, less noticed news that day was the announcement – just a few moments after the Amazon/WholeFoods announcement – of the WalMart acquisition of yet another online “hipster” retailer in its effort to broaden its consumer base.
In this active engagement, Kroger is fighting back.
Kroger is testing delivery services like Uber and promoting the online ordering system that lets shoppers pick up their groceries at their local store.
When his father’s dry goods business went bankrupt in 1873, Kroger reportedly quit school at 13 years of age finding jobs to provide for his family, including selling coffee and tea door to door.
Ten years later he founded Kroger and within the first year had 4 stores. By the time he sold out in 1928, he had over 5,000 stores.
Mr. Kroger’s entrepreneurial spirit lives on, and it better.
Somewhere there is an upstart entrepreneur preparing to be a new entrant onto this competitive battlefield providing new challenges to these grocery combatants.
Think about this today…
“You get full coffee value when you buy coffee from me; the kind that is warranted to give you perfect satisfaction, or your money returned and no questions asked…”
— B. H. Kroger newspaper ad