Harris Teeter/Kroger integration

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BatteryMill
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Re: Harris Teeter/Kroger integration

Post by BatteryMill »

cw06 wrote: July 17th, 2021, 5:42 pm The Simple Truth products mostly replaced HT Traders and HT Organics products. This was mainly because it was all made by the same manufacturer. In a lot of cases the former HT product was manufactured by Kroger pre-merger.

The u-scan upgrades seemed to have no real plan behind them. New stores got new machines with the Kroger software out of the gate, while old stores kept the old HT software. At my store they tried installing the Kroger software on the old HT scanners, which led to constant crashes and reboots.

As far as why they haven't pushed for a deeper integration, my guess is that Kroger knows well enough not to kill their golden goose. HT is quite profitable, and shareholders would revolt if they did anything to hurt that. A side benefit to keeping HT a subsidiary instead of making it a division is that it keeps the union out. If HT just became part of Kroger Mid-Atlantic, the UFCW would have a good case to organize it's stores.
I didn't quite know that, surprising! Maybe it might have been the reason why Kroger chose to buy Harris Teeter. From what I have seen, the Harris Teeter Organics brand still exists to brand organic produce, and I have seen Traders products here and there even with the arrival of Simple Truth stock.

Regarding U-Scans, it seems they crammed in 6 self-checkout units compared to the 4 that once were from my latest observations. Those are not the latest, sleek kinds however so that may explain these older stores staying on HT equipment.

I was thinking that the most likely outcome would be a Kroger clone appearance and feature-wise, something like Smith's and Fry's have been. I wouldn't want Harris Teeter to lose its magic, although the large-format concepts we have seen are promising.
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Re: Harris Teeter/Kroger integration

Post by storewanderer »

Harris Teeter runs a great operation in NC/SC (not impressed with them at all around DC) and they run with higher prices than typical Kroger pricing. If the stores get how should I say it nicely, Krogerized, they will have to decrease prices to justify a downgrade (oops I said it) in presentation and store atmosphere (notice I did not say anything about mix here).

Given the Harris Teeter grocery private label (which is still done through Topco) was recently redesigned, it is interesting to hear more Kroger items are popping up now. I don't think having Kroger items is necessarily a deal breaker, but allowing Harris Teeter to continue its own private label would certainly help it have more of an independent identity. Especially given folks in Harris Teeter markets generally know of Kroger and likely have an opinion about Kroger (whether good or bad, that I do not know). Some Kroger brand perception studies may be a good idea if they haven't already done them, to ensure putting Kroger items into Harris Teeter does not automatically cause any damage to the reputation of Harris Teeter.

It is unfortunate Kroger did not allow divisions like Ralphs and QFC out west to maintain their identity and instead downgraded them into submission/typical Kroger. While submission/typical Kroger was an upgrade for divisions like Smiths it was certainly not an upgrade for Ralphs and QFC.
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Re: Harris Teeter/Kroger integration

Post by buckguy »

When Kroger merged with Dillon, it was shortly after Dillon had signed new contracts with their house brand suppliers. Kroger had been selling off divisions at that time and needed to fill its manufacturing capacity, but wasn't able to do that with Dillon operations until much later---the inability of Dillon help them with overcapacity was one criticism of the merger. I wonder if H-T's agreement with Topco was like that and, if so, how much longer it would last. It would be easy for Kroger to put H-T labels on its products because it supplies non-Kroger chains already. If Kroger items already are creeping into the stores (I haven't noticed them), it may be a sign that the existing supplier contracts are ending and more Kroger-supplied items will enter the stores.
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Re: Harris Teeter/Kroger integration

Post by veteran+ »

storewanderer wrote: July 19th, 2021, 11:32 pm Harris Teeter runs a great operation in NC/SC (not impressed with them at all around DC) and they run with higher prices than typical Kroger pricing. If the stores get how should I say it nicely, Krogerized, they will have to decrease prices to justify a downgrade (oops I said it) in presentation and store atmosphere (notice I did not say anything about mix here).

Given the Harris Teeter grocery private label (which is still done through Topco) was recently redesigned, it is interesting to hear more Kroger items are popping up now. I don't think having Kroger items is necessarily a deal breaker, but allowing Harris Teeter to continue its own private label would certainly help it have more of an independent identity. Especially given folks in Harris Teeter markets generally know of Kroger and likely have an opinion about Kroger (whether good or bad, that I do not know). Some Kroger brand perception studies may be a good idea if they haven't already done them, to ensure putting Kroger items into Harris Teeter does not automatically cause any damage to the reputation of Harris Teeter.

It is unfortunate Kroger did not allow divisions like Ralphs and QFC out west to maintain their identity and instead downgraded them into submission/typical Kroger. While submission/typical Kroger was an upgrade for divisions like Smiths it was certainly not an upgrade for Ralphs and QFC.
When King Soopers was under Dillon and Ralphs was under whomever, these two stores were something really awesome. They use to exchange best practices all the time.

Kroger ruined Ralphs and damaged King Soopers. I have worked for both and it works itself from the inside out.

Kroger is extremely indifferent to their customers' needs and concerns AND it shows in their employees!
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Re: Harris Teeter/Kroger integration

Post by storewanderer »

veteran+ wrote: July 20th, 2021, 6:47 am

When King Soopers was under Dillon and Ralphs was under whomever, these two stores were something really awesome. They use to exchange best practices all the time.

Kroger ruined Ralphs and damaged King Soopers. I have worked for both and it works itself from the inside out.

Kroger is extremely indifferent to their customers' needs and concerns AND it shows in their employees!
This is the thing. You do not want to see Harris Teeter go the way Ralphs has gone.

Remember Kroger bought Pick N Save out after Harris Teeter and there has been significantly more integration with that block of stores. There is a reason- that was a rather broken operation. Harris Teeter wasn't broken.

What I found strange is shortly after Kroger bought Harris Teeter was when they did what I call the final blow to the divisions at least out west and decided to start making everything the same...

At this point when I deal with Kroger I feel like I am dealing with Safeway around 2010. Stores are not staffed very well, attitude and quality are all over the map, pricing is all over the map, IT/systems are outdated and lack modern capabilities, and there is a very clear "corporate knows best" attitude and many stupid/bad ideas being implemented. For me, center store/private label continues to be the one (and only) bright spot with Kroger.
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Re: Harris Teeter/Kroger integration

Post by cw06 »

The way it was explained to me is that Kroger wasn't just buying HT's real estate, they were buying HT's processes as well. HT was consistently profitable, had high customer satisfaction, and strong brand loyalty in an industry known for razor thin margins; Kroger wanted that "secret sauce" They bought the company and then cherry picked processes to deploy across the larger organization.
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Re: Harris Teeter/Kroger integration

Post by BatteryMill »

storewanderer wrote: July 20th, 2021, 9:25 am
veteran+ wrote: July 20th, 2021, 6:47 am

When King Soopers was under Dillon and Ralphs was under whomever, these two stores were something really awesome. They use to exchange best practices all the time.

Kroger ruined Ralphs and damaged King Soopers. I have worked for both and it works itself from the inside out.

Kroger is extremely indifferent to their customers' needs and concerns AND it shows in their employees!
This is the thing. You do not want to see Harris Teeter go the way Ralphs has gone.

Remember Kroger bought Pick N Save out after Harris Teeter and there has been significantly more integration with that block of stores. There is a reason- that was a rather broken operation. Harris Teeter wasn't broken.

What I found strange is shortly after Kroger bought Harris Teeter was when they did what I call the final blow to the divisions at least out west and decided to start making everything the same...

At this point when I deal with Kroger I feel like I am dealing with Safeway around 2010. Stores are not staffed very well, attitude and quality are all over the map, pricing is all over the map, IT/systems are outdated and lack modern capabilities, and there is a very clear "corporate knows best" attitude and many stupid/bad ideas being implemented. For me, center store/private label continues to be the one (and only) bright spot with Kroger.
Fred Meyer most importantly, seeing how the stock slide is going there and how expansion possibilities had been crushed. Speaking of which, how were PnS/Smith's weak and how did Safeway change their operations?
cw06 wrote: July 20th, 2021, 10:14 am The way it was explained to me is that Kroger wasn't just buying HT's real estate, they were buying HT's processes as well. HT was consistently profitable, had high customer satisfaction, and strong brand loyalty in an industry known for razor thin margins; Kroger wanted that "secret sauce" They bought the company and then cherry picked processes to deploy across the larger organization.
It does help to have a significant asset in the Carolinas where they had struggled aside from the RDU. I had heard, however that Harris Teeter was struggling financially even after dropping their last non-grocery asset as the Ruddick Corporation.
buckguy wrote: July 20th, 2021, 6:37 am When Kroger merged with Dillon, it was shortly after Dillon had signed new contracts with their house brand suppliers. Kroger had been selling off divisions at that time and needed to fill its manufacturing capacity, but wasn't able to do that with Dillon operations until much later---the inability of Dillon help them with overcapacity was one criticism of the merger. I wonder if H-T's agreement with Topco was like that and, if so, how much longer it would last. It would be easy for Kroger to put H-T labels on its products because it supplies non-Kroger chains already. If Kroger items already are creeping into the stores (I haven't noticed them), it may be a sign that the existing supplier contracts are ending and more Kroger-supplied items will enter the stores.
The person who I had seen Kroger merchandise increase with also pointed out this was happening in a single area, and had disappeared after a few days. I am not seeing this increase, but rather only pop up here and there very rarely.
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Re: Harris Teeter/Kroger integration

Post by rwsandiego »

BatteryMill wrote: July 20th, 2021, 4:44 pm Speaking of which, how were PnS/Smith's weak and how did Kroger change their operations?...
Having lived in Chicago and visited Milwaukee very frequently I can tell you that Pick 'n' Save was less "broken" than it was fit for the low expectations of the Milwaukee market. They started out as warehouse stores and despite their attempts to migrate away from that format they still looked and felt the part. For years, they competed on price, not quality, with Kohl's.

Copp's, which has since been rebranded as PNS, was a different story. I recall visiting some of their stores thinking they were decent markets and visiting others that were just run-down. Some of the locations reminded me of the A&Ps we had as a kid.

My observation is Kroger remodeled stores and phased out the lackluster Roundy's brands in favor of their own. Roundy's had suffered financially for years. Under Bob Mariano, investments were made in building the Mariano's chain at the expense of PNS and Copp's.

As an aside, the first time I visited a Mariano's I thought it was very nice and then saw the Roundy's private label. "Lipstick on a pig" popped into my mind.
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Re: Harris Teeter/Kroger integration

Post by Romr123 »

Yeah, Roundy's seemed the western, less good version of Spartan Stores (Grand Rapids, MI)...they were located analogously in a bit of a "peninsular" area (Wisconsin) up against Canada and the Great Lakes. The chain competition was a bit weak/fragmented (Kroger and A&P for awhile until they took over Kohl's; Sentry and Schulz/Piggly Wiggly had some good locations, and some early combo/hypermarket (Treasury) exposure.
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Re: Harris Teeter/Kroger integration

Post by BatteryMill »

rwsandiego wrote: July 20th, 2021, 7:51 pm
BatteryMill wrote: July 20th, 2021, 4:44 pm Speaking of which, how were PnS/Smith's weak and how did Kroger change their operations?...
Having lived in Chicago and visited Milwaukee very frequently I can tell you that Pick 'n' Save was less "broken" than it was fit for the low expectations of the Milwaukee market. They started out as warehouse stores and despite their attempts to migrate away from that format they still looked and felt the part. For years, they competed on price, not quality, with Kohl's.

Copp's, which has since been rebranded as PNS, was a different story. I recall visiting some of their stores thinking they were decent markets and visiting others that were just run-down. Some of the locations reminded me of the A&Ps we had as a kid.

My observation is Kroger remodeled stores and phased out the lackluster Roundy's brands in favor of their own. Roundy's had suffered financially for years. Under Bob Mariano, investments were made in building the Mariano's chain at the expense of PNS and Copp's.

As an aside, the first time I visited a Mariano's I thought it was very nice and then saw the Roundy's private label. "Lipstick on a pig" popped into my mind.
Interesting story going on down with their Chicago operations. Bob retired from Roundy's, started his own chain, and Roundy's Mariano's growth has stagnated compared to the mid-2010s. It's too bad they distanced from the warehouse concept, although that rendered Copps outdated once Kroger took over. I wonder if Kroger was the push to rebrand.
Romr123 wrote: July 21st, 2021, 5:02 am Yeah, Roundy's seemed the western, less good version of Spartan Stores (Grand Rapids, MI)...they were located analogously in a bit of a "peninsular" area (Wisconsin) up against Canada and the Great Lakes. The chain competition was a bit weak/fragmented (Kroger and A&P for awhile until they took over Kohl's; Sentry and Schulz/Piggly Wiggly had some good locations, and some early combo/hypermarket (Treasury) exposure.
Wisconsin is just one of those markets... with franchisees/independents being the big game across the board and little well-known regionals (a la Publix, Harris Teeter, H-E-B) or national chains (Kroger and A&P as we've discussed). Reminds me quite a lot of Oklahoma at this point.
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