The present and future of Randalls

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SamSpade
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Re: The present and future of Randalls

Post by SamSpade » January 13th, 2020, 10:38 am

Looking at the "Spring" location cited in the link provided by architect, that store appeared to be on Safeway's last pre-Lifestyle interior. Sure suggests it would be struggling a bit.
No *right next by* competition, but not far from the other closing store in Woodlands, which are both near H-E-B, Kroger, Walmart, ethnic, or higher end stores.

The one store in Kingwood had 'colorful lifestyle' probably in an attempt to compete with the H-E-B across the road but it apparently wasn't enough.

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Re: The present and future of Randalls

Post by architect » January 13th, 2020, 11:00 am

SamSpade wrote:
January 13th, 2020, 10:38 am
Looking at the "Spring" location cited in the link provided by architect, that store appeared to be on Safeway's last pre-Lifestyle interior. Sure suggests it would be struggling a bit.
No *right next by* competition, but not far from the other closing store in Woodlands, which are both near H-E-B, Kroger, Walmart, ethnic, or higher end stores.

The one store in Kingwood had 'colorful lifestyle' probably in an attempt to compete with the H-E-B across the road but it apparently wasn't enough.
The Spring location is technically also located within the Woodlands, and is actually a mid-90’s Albertsons box which was sold to Randalls when Albertsons originally exited the Houston market. It literally hasn’t been touched since reopening as a Randalls aside from adding a Starbucks kiosk in the former video rental area. The location is good, it was just horribly mismanaged at the hands of Safeway/Albertsons. Despite nearby competition, that store actually serves as the only grocer in the immediate area, so it would not surprise me to see a competitor consider opening in the space (particularly Kroger).

The other Woodlands location has been questionable for years. With numerous H-E-B and Kroger locations pulling traffic from all directions, most residents in the area can simply keep driving and find a much better store within five minutes.

As far as the Kingwood stores go, the store with Colorful Lifestyle decor was actually gutted and rebuilt a couple of years back due to flood damage from Harvey. This is a strange closure considering that if the store was barely turning a profit, Albertsons presumably would have just decided not to rebuild. However, immediately prior to Harvey, a new H-E-B opened at the intersection, and maybe the sales impact of this new store hadn’t been felt yet by Albertsons? The other Kingwood store has just recently been hit with a new H-E-B competitor just up 59, so it’s closure was likely inevitable. The Kingwood area as a whole is also still recovering from Harvey, and some residents still have yet to return.

The Clear Lake store is not surprising, as it has strong competition from a new H-E-B just down the road. I actually visited this store earlier this year and it was clearly a dead store walking at that point.

In short, none of these closures are surprising in themselves, but I am a bit surprised to see Randalls exit the Woodlands and Kingwood markets entirely, considering how upscale these areas are.

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Re: The present and future of Randalls

Post by Greggo » January 13th, 2020, 3:26 pm

Both the stores in The Woodlands have interesting histories.

The Panther Creek store was initially a Jamail’s. It does pretty good business. I was actually just in it last month and it had a decent amount of shoppers. Not slammed, but certainly humming. I did notice, however, that the in-store Wells Fargo bank had closed. H-E-B (Indian Springs) and Kroger (Cochran’s Crossing and Alden Bridge) have stores too close to pick up this site. In the local paper, the head of The Woodlands Township suggested maybe Sprouts could backfill (although they wouldn’t fill the entire space, which is 65,800 square feet). He said Albertsons corporate sent elected officials a letter last week giving them advance notice of the closings.

The Grogan’s Mill center initially had a Jamail’s, too. (Located in a different building that has since been subdivided.) Randall’s operated it very briefly (they had an existing store not too far away on Sawdust Road), then flipped it to Gerland’s, who flipped it to local owners who operated it as The Woodlands Market who flipped it to different local owners who operated it as The Woodlands Food Market. After they closed, the building (including the grocery shelves) was briefly used as a public library. The center went without a grocer for a few years. Finally, Food Lion agreed to move in and build a new building. That never happened because of the ABC News fiasco. So then, the developer lined up Albertsons. Albertsons built a new building and when they pulled out of the market, this was one of the stores Randalls bought. They relocated the Sawdust Road store here, presumably to get it further away from a new(ish) H-E-B. I’m shocked it lasted this long. Rarely did I ever see more than about 10 cars in the parking lot. The employees seemed bored out of their minds. I’m guessing the landlord gave them a steep discount on rent to get them to stay as long as they did. I don’t see another grocer going in here. There are 2 H-E-B stores within five minutes (Sawdust and Market Street). Maybe like a Planet Fitness or something, but I even doubt that. That center, I believe, is toast.

It’s sad to see how far Randalls has fallen.

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Re: The present and future of Randalls

Post by klkla » January 13th, 2020, 5:29 pm

Greggo wrote:
January 13th, 2020, 3:26 pm
It’s sad to see how far Randalls has fallen.
The article posted earlier says only 13 stores left. If that is true it really is sad to see how far they have fallen.

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Re: The present and future of Randalls

Post by retailfanmitchell019 » January 13th, 2020, 6:22 pm

klkla wrote:
January 13th, 2020, 5:29 pm
Greggo wrote:
January 13th, 2020, 3:26 pm
It’s sad to see how far Randalls has fallen.
The article posted earlier says only 13 stores left. If that is true it really is sad to see how far they have fallen.
If it were up to me, I would sell off the remaining Randalls in the Houston market.

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Re: The present and future of Randalls

Post by Bagels » January 16th, 2020, 4:20 am

architect wrote:
January 13th, 2020, 11:00 am
As far as the Kingwood stores go, the store with Colorful Lifestyle decor was actually gutted and rebuilt a couple of years back due to flood damage from Harvey. This is a strange closure considering that if the store was barely turning a profit, Albertsons presumably would have just decided not to rebuild.
It may have been a stipulation of their insurance, in order to be made whole.

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Re: The present and future of Randalls

Post by storewanderer » January 17th, 2020, 5:48 pm

Bagels wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 4:20 am
architect wrote:
January 13th, 2020, 11:00 am
As far as the Kingwood stores go, the store with Colorful Lifestyle decor was actually gutted and rebuilt a couple of years back due to flood damage from Harvey. This is a strange closure considering that if the store was barely turning a profit, Albertsons presumably would have just decided not to rebuild.
It may have been a stipulation of their insurance, in order to be made whole.
It is interesting the Kingwood Store that got damaged due to the flood appears to have kept the old Lifestyle floor. Maybe they re-installed the same type of floor.

I don't see how it is efficient to have 13 stores in Houston. Too small of a store count to matter. I suppose in that level of store count, you won't do any market wide advertising anymore, just send out the ads to whatever zip codes are nearby the store to cut costs. This is how Safeway has done business up here in Reno for years with only 2 stores in the market, half of the city doesn't get their ad and there is little to no local media advertising (recently there have been some billboards for the new low price program and radio ads have come and gone over the years).

What is tough is looking at photos all of these stores closing look like nice stores, and they also look pretty well stocked in the photos. They clearly lack customers...

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Re: The present and future of Randalls

Post by pseudo3d » January 17th, 2020, 6:17 pm

storewanderer wrote:
January 17th, 2020, 5:48 pm
Bagels wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 4:20 am
architect wrote:
January 13th, 2020, 11:00 am
As far as the Kingwood stores go, the store with Colorful Lifestyle decor was actually gutted and rebuilt a couple of years back due to flood damage from Harvey. This is a strange closure considering that if the store was barely turning a profit, Albertsons presumably would have just decided not to rebuild.
It may have been a stipulation of their insurance, in order to be made whole.
It is interesting the Kingwood Store that got damaged due to the flood appears to have kept the old Lifestyle floor. Maybe they re-installed the same type of floor.

I don't see how it is efficient to have 13 stores in Houston. Too small of a store count to matter. I suppose in that level of store count, you won't do any market wide advertising anymore, just send out the ads to whatever zip codes are nearby the store to cut costs. This is how Safeway has done business up here in Reno for years with only 2 stores in the market, half of the city doesn't get their ad and there is little to no local media advertising (recently there have been some billboards for the new low price program and radio ads have come and gone over the years).

What is tough is looking at photos all of these stores closing look like nice stores, and they also look pretty well stocked in the photos. They clearly lack customers...
I can't imagine the remaining 13 stores are that much more profitable to keep worthwhile interest in. My theory is that Albertsons has a buyer (or buyers) lined up for the other stores. I could even imagine a scenario like an independent like Arlan's Market buying most of the remaining stores (may or may not include the Austin stores), with Albertsons buying Arlan's (or whatever) in part or whole.

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Re: The present and future of Randalls

Post by storewanderer » January 18th, 2020, 7:55 pm

pseudo3d wrote:
January 17th, 2020, 6:17 pm


I can't imagine the remaining 13 stores are that much more profitable to keep worthwhile interest in. My theory is that Albertsons has a buyer (or buyers) lined up for the other stores. I could even imagine a scenario like an independent like Arlan's Market buying most of the remaining stores (may or may not include the Austin stores), with Albertsons buying Arlan's (or whatever) in part or whole.
How do the remaining 13 stores do? Are they large decent volume stores? Is there even such a thing as a decent volume operation run by Safeway in TX?

It is usually not a great thing to see an operator exit a market. The market loses a competitor (fewer options for people who like to go chase the weekly specials at the different chains) and from the looks of things some pretty nice looking facilities are being lost as this chain closes down its operation in Houston. Given how long those 3 island stores in FL stuck around, I would not be surprised to see a few island Houston stores stick around too.

My experiences with HEB were nothing too impressive on fresh products, in the stores I drove to south of Dallas, a number of years ago, but I guess their stores are very variable and given their ability to run competitors out of many TX markets, they obviously have some pretty serious abilities.

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Re: The present and future of Randalls

Post by pseudo3d » January 18th, 2020, 10:06 pm

storewanderer wrote:
January 18th, 2020, 7:55 pm
pseudo3d wrote:
January 17th, 2020, 6:17 pm


I can't imagine the remaining 13 stores are that much more profitable to keep worthwhile interest in. My theory is that Albertsons has a buyer (or buyers) lined up for the other stores. I could even imagine a scenario like an independent like Arlan's Market buying most of the remaining stores (may or may not include the Austin stores), with Albertsons buying Arlan's (or whatever) in part or whole.
How do the remaining 13 stores do? Are they large decent volume stores? Is there even such a thing as a decent volume operation run by Safeway in TX?

It is usually not a great thing to see an operator exit a market. The market loses a competitor (fewer options for people who like to go chase the weekly specials at the different chains) and from the looks of things some pretty nice looking facilities are being lost as this chain closes down its operation in Houston. Given how long those 3 island stores in FL stuck around, I would not be surprised to see a few island Houston stores stick around too.

My experiences with HEB were nothing too impressive on fresh products, in the stores I drove to south of Dallas, a number of years ago, but I guess their stores are very variable and given their ability to run competitors out of many TX markets, they obviously have some pretty serious abilities.
Given my experiences with Randalls and the stores that remain open, Bellaire has done really low volume and has gotten crushed by the H-E-B that rebuilt a few years ago, but it hasn't closed yet despite predictions. The adjacent bus station probably gives them business but headaches as well (I would know). Midtown was renovated not long after the Florida stores opened. It's a nice but small store and one of the only stores in the area with a growing residential population, but it faces competition with a new Whole Foods Market several blocks away. Galveston seems to do okay in the summertime even as a Kroger pulls in most of the tourist traffic just a few blocks (about a third of a mile away). Woodlake, if I remember, was one of Safeway's prized operations that they wouldn't sell unless it came down to the end, and likewise for Town & Country, but both of those were still sporting Lifestyle décor as of a year or two ago. Katy (South Fry) is a former Albertsons. Pearland, if I remembered, was largely dead, the consequence of not just Safeway's neglect but tucked away half a mile from the freeway while H-E-B and Kroger operate large stores prominently visible from Highway 288. Weslayan I've been to once, I remember it having a weird smell (partly because of its age, partly because of a lack of Starbucks...mostly looking for evidence of the store's abandoned basement level).

The other ones I haven't been to are Bellfort (right near a Kroger), San Felipe (near The Galleria), Holcombe (near the Medical Center, features a Quest Diagnostics and probably had improved sales when an old Kroger bit it, though a new H-E-B on the other side of the neighborhood could threaten it), Clay Road (another former Albertsons, benefits due to lack of competition nearby), Memorial Drive (not threatened by immediate competition, especially when H-E-B closed a smaller store a few years ago without replacement), and Champions Village on FM 1960 (once a prime shopping center but is threatened as the neighborhood isn't what it used to be).

None of the stores are in particularly attractive to Randalls' immediate competitors. When Albertsons pulled out its own stores in 2002, the large stores and trendy locations made them targets of Kroger, H-E-B, and Randalls. Even when AppleTree (Safeway) went out in the early 1990s, Kroger snapped up the better locations to get back into growth mode (there was a brief time when Kroger had started to slip in the Houston market and was close to falling even behind Fiesta) and worm itself into areas that it wouldn't be able to get into before, like the trendy River Oaks area. Nowadays, Kroger has largely backed off on expansion mode while H-E-B has skyrocketed and closed in on their market share, especially in the Inner Loop. Neither of them are particularly like Publix and willing to build stores across the street from each other to shut off competition, nor are they fond of smaller stores (which Publix has in abundance).

The only other thing to note for Randalls is that all five of the stores closed were in the suburbs, with most of the remaining stores (except for Galveston, Pearland, and Katy) are all in the main city core, even if they do suffer from competition. It's not like the Florida situation--even when they only had 17 stores, Albertsons still held onto the DC until they cut the store count down from 17 to 4, then eventually threw everything they had into reviving the last three to make a potential fresh start into the market without buying or building new stores. (It didn't work).

This is why I think that the 13 stores survived for a reason. I don't think the five suburban stores were doing that badly compared to the others, besides, the region had already largely been left for dead for the last few years, I think that Albertsons does have a plan for the stores that would allow them to continue being grocery stores somehow through new ownership. And, maybe, they'll still keep the stores by buying out the buyer. I don't know. It's possible that the 13 stores will be divided between independents, Kroger, Fiesta, and H-E-B, with an announcement coming soon. Maybe even the Austin stores will go that way soon (if not at the same time), having fulfilled their contractual obligation with the Leander store but still losing stores since (the Exposition/Lake Austin store).

* It should also be noted that H-E-B's only true market entrance and conquest is Houston but their expansion into the market was like lightning in a bottle and its competitors had all the right problems to allow it to gain a foothold; otherwise, their core market (basically running up I-35 to south of Dallas) remains largely just as it was from the 1960s.

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