The 900-unit retailer's recently announced strategic program aims at improving performance, which may eventually put the company in position to participate in industry consolidation, Christian Haub, president and chief executive officer, told the DLJ Food and Drug Retailing Conference in New York this month.
The strategic program, unveiled late last year, includes acceleration of store modernization, opening new superstores and exiting nonstrategic, underperforming locations. The latter included the departure from the Richmond, Va., division, which has been completed, said Haub, who took the helm of the company last year.
Haub also pointed to a corporate culture change. "We're upgrading fresh foods to be the best in the industry," he said. These goals are linked to the company's "Nine Great Actions and Priorities" (or Nine Great A&Ps), which are the new operating principles, Haub said.
"We're becoming the supermarket of choice by building customer relationships, presenting the highest-quality fresh foods and providing one-stop shopping," he said.
Accelerating capital-development programs is another major goal. "We are encouraged by the growth of our new stores," Haub said. The company opened 115 new superstores over the past three years. "We will accelerate it to 175 to 200 units in fiscal '99," Haub said.
Haub forecast, "Category management implementation across all departments will help us become a sales-oriented organization." He cited strong growth potential for private label, which now represents only 13% of the company's business in the United States and 18% in Canada.