CINCINNATI -- Kroger here said it has singled out 80 supplier companies owned by minorities and women for special recognition.
heir names will be promoted within Kroger's divisions to make chain personnel more aware of them, Lynn Marmer, group vice president of corporate affairs, told SN.
The 80 companies, which offer products and services for sale and not-for-resale, are listed on the chain's Web site at www.kroger.com/supplierdiversity.html. According to Marmer, they were selected based on nominations from buyers at the division level and chain executives in finance, human resources and logistics who cited the quality of products, service levels, creativity, sales performance and other criteria in making their recommendations.
Kroger buys products from nearly 3,000 minority- or women-owned business enterprises whose combined sales at the chain totaled approximately $690 million in 2003, Marmer said, "and we continue to grow the number of those companies we deal with."
She said Kroger has been buying products from minority- and women-owned vendors for over 25 years. However, it began focusing on them more closely about four years ago when it created a database to identify those companies, she said.
"As our customer base becomes more diverse, we need products that serve different market segments. These businesses, particularly minority-owned companies, often provide products well before the mainstream consumer packaged goods companies do."
Products purchased from minority- and women-owned companies must contribute to Kroger's sales to remain on the shelves, Marmer said. "We're not doing charity work here. They must have customer acceptance so we can measure their success and determine whether to carry them," she explained.
Some of the companies being honored are small, while others are large enough in their distribution capacity for Kroger to co-brand with them, Marmer said.