Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

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BatteryMill
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Re: Winchester/Front Royal: Martin's Monopoly?

Post by BatteryMill »

mjhale wrote: July 20th, 2021, 8:35 pm Here is a link to SuperValu's request to sell five Food Lion turned Shop n Save stores back to AholdDelhaize. Two of the five stores - Berryville, VA and Martinsburg, WV - were divestitures from the original consent decree that prevented AholdDelhaize from going back into areas where divestitures occurred.

https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/docume ... public.pdf

What is interesting reading to add to the discussion here is Section IV where SuperValu lays out its intent and then what happened after it purchased the stores that were required divestitures and ultimately became Shop N Save. It sounds like a comedy of errors in retailing and in my opinion provides some insight on why SuperValu was failing with its chains. Changing pricing strategies, lack of anything interesting to draw in customers. Food Lion was never a great operator. However SuperValu was even more plain vanilla and boring. Seeing that SuperValu experienced large sales declines after starting to operate the x-Food Lion stores makes sense. I was visiting Chambersburg, PA regularly when the change over occurred. There was a good contingency of people who were loyal to Food Lion. They liked the smaller stores that still had decent product and they operated on the far northern and western parts of town where Giant did not have locations.

Bringing this to the discussion of Winchester, it seems based on the information in the sale request that SuperValu did market the Shop N Save stores around pretty vigourosly. Based on the chart in Section IV, Part C there was serious interest in a group of non-Winchester market stores beyond bringing the stores back to AholdDelhazie. Unfortunately the names of the interested parties are redacted. The only one of the interested parties I've been able to identify was Aldi being interested in opening in part of the Shop N Save in Purcellville, VA. There are several articles in the Loudoun Times that discuss Aldi's interest and ultimately pulling out of the project. One could surmise that SuperValu marketed the other stores as vigorously as those covered in the document. Seeing the other interested parties for the stores covered in the sale request might gives us some insight as to who might have been interested in the Winchester market. The sale document does note that SuperValu was feeling it from all sides - Wal-Mart, discounters and standard grocers (aka Giant). Maybe this was the real reason that no one else took a shot at the Winchester market. If an established food retailer and distributor like SuperValu was getting nailed by Wal-Mart and the discounters primarily what space is there for another traditional operator? I think it goes back to what others have suggested is that it needs to be someone coming to the market to respond to a different demographic than the traditional Winchester resident. Winchester has a good amount of people who have moved from the DC area for cheaper housing. Maybe as someone else suggested that the crack in the market needs to come from someone like Harris-Teeter or Wegmans that brings something different than what is already there and isn't trying to slice out a part of the Winchester grocery pie that is already dominated by Giant, the discounters and Wal-Mart.
Wow! I actually didn't know those stores returned to Ahold Delhaize were requested by SuperValu, and not solely initiated by AD. Interesting move anyhow, if these stores wouldn't come too close to any existing Giant-MD/PA locations then it makes sense. I do wonder why Food Lion was not chosen to take back these locations, or why these stores didn't stay on board in the first place. About Chambersburg, that adds on to this discussion too, if those stores were not filled in with any other groceries. SuperValu sure has had an interesting racket going on, especially with them ending up keeping Cub and Shoppers on board for the time being.

I saw Aldi hadn't moved in to Purcellville, strange anomaly despite being hugely successful now. Also, I do have to wonder what would be the case for Front Royal and any other pockets that have not received a grocery replacement for Food Lion. If the chain that enters Winchester locates on a regional basis with only one site in the market (a la Wegmans or Whole Foods), what will be done about the smaller markets competition-wise?
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