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Kroger & Albertsons CEOs Try to Clear Things Up

Rodney McMullen of The Kroger Co. and Vivek Sankaran of Albertsons Cos., Inc. shared a jointly-penned opinion letter to the editors of the daily newspaper Cincinnati Enquirer. In the April 28th letter, the retail executives attempted to combat misconceptions about the proposed merger of the retailers.

Kroger and Albertsons were created with their founders’ life savings and a commitment to bringing fresh food to their neighbors. Today, our companies remain grounded in serving customers. Our collective grocery retail experience teaches us that customers’ needs are always changing. It’s our responsibility to anticipate those changes and provide what’s most important to them.

Years ago, families made one weekly grocery trip. They walked the aisles and dutifully checked items off handwritten lists. Today, customers add to a digital cart from an online recipe and have ingredients delivered in as little as 30 minutes.

Customers also fulfill their food cravings almost anywhere − from dollar and convenience stores to independent grocers, to larger retailers and on e-commerce platforms. And America spends about half of its food budgets in restaurants.

Kroger and Albertsons were created with their founders’ life savings and a commitment to bringing fresh food to their neighbors. Today, our companies remain grounded in serving customers. Our collective grocery retail experience teaches us that customers’ needs are always changing. It’s our responsibility to anticipate those changes and provide what’s most important to them.

Years ago, families made one weekly grocery trip. They walked the aisles and dutifully checked items off handwritten lists. Today, customers add to a digital cart from an online recipe and have ingredients delivered in as little as 30 minutes.

Customers also fulfill their food cravings almost anywhere − from dollar and convenience stores to independent grocers, to larger retailers and on e-commerce platforms. And America spends about half of its food budgets in restaurants.

 

Myth #1: My store will close

We understand the idea of a trusted neighborhood store closing is worrisome. That’s why Kroger committed to zero store closures as a result of the merger, and the company will invest in stores post-merger.

As a part of the regulatory process, we anticipate divesting − or selling − some stores. These stores will remain open. We are working closely with the regulators and are committed to finding reliable operators for the divested stores.

 

Myth #2: I am going to lose my job and my union will be hurt

We value and respect our associates and would never move forward with this combination if it could risk their careers. No frontline workers will be laid off as a result of the merger. The combined company will have one of the largest unionized workforces in the country. We are committed to protecting and expanding opportunities for union jobs.

We remain committed to investing in our associates. At Kroger, the average hourly wage is $23.50, including comprehensive, industry-leading benefits − and Kroger continues these investments because we value our associates’ hard work.

We understand wages are not enough. Our associates should have the tools they need for genuine peace of mind at work and at home. That is why Kroger offers up to $21,000 for any associate to advance their education on their own terms. We know so many associates come to us for a first job, new beginning or growth opportunity. We take this role seriously and empower our associates as they build their careers.

 

Myth #3: My groceries are going to be more expensive

Customers look to us to provide high-quality, affordable groceries − particularly today. At Kroger, our business strategy is to lower prices year over year, attracting more customers and earning their loyalty. In fact, Kroger reduced its margins by more than $5 billion since 2018, while growing customer counts.

We have seen claims we will lower prices by squeezing farmers. This is simply not accurate. Farmers are the backbone of our business and help put fresh, affordable food on families’ tables daily. When we grow, farmers grow with us.

As a combined company, Kroger and Albertsons will be even more customer-focused. We will offer lower prices and more choices on products customers want, need and love.

Our associates lead the way, delivering a fresh and friendly shopping experience. We will continue to grow our workforce, raising wages and building comprehensive benefits. We are lowering prices, so customers find the value they deserve. Customers can feel confident we’ll hold ourselves accountable because we have a track record of investments that benefit them.

We look at the combination with optimism about the opportunities it will create for customers, associates and the communities we serve.

Vivek Sankaran is the CEO of Albertsons Companies, Inc., leading the company’s digital transformation and supporting associates as they make a meaningful difference for their customers and communities. Rodney McMullen serves as Chairman and CEO of The Kroger Co., which employs nearly half a million associates who serve America through food inspiration and uplift.

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By Published On: May 2nd, 2023Tags: ,

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About the Author: Christopher Durham

Christopher Durham is the president of the Velocity Institute. Prior to this he founded the groundbreaking site My Private Brand. He is the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He began his retail career building brands at Food Lion and Lowe’s Home Improvement. Durham has worked with retailers around the world, including Albertsons, Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro Canada. Durham has published seven definitive books on private brands, including Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project and Vanguard: Vintage Originals.

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