By taking pains to sharpen management of their businesses, the major public operators have put themselves on the right track for growth.
sponsored roundtable on food retailing.
In recent years, analysts said, a number of the big chains have consolidated divisions, honed operational functions, stepped up micromarketing and increased technology use, among other efforts. In-store, they have implemented category management, expanded private label, boosted perishable and meal offerings, enhanced customer service and trimmed pricing.
Meanwhile, the analysts said, retailers also face several challenges in achieving the growth and financial returns investors seek. They include setting capital-expense levels in a retail sector with a plethora of space, streamlining buying without losing local-market acumen, protecting market share from competing retail formats and snaring effective acquisitions -- all while keeping shoppers coming to their stores.
In this second part of SN's food-retailing forum, analysts Mark Husson of J.P. Morgan Securities, Debra Levin of Morgan Stanley, Gary Vineberg of Merrill Lynch, Gary Giblen of Smith Barney, Jonathan Ziegler of Salomon Bros. and Ed Comeau of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette discussed seven leading operators. Here are excerpts.