I don't see them doing any banner consolidation anytime soon, and for the good reason that there's going to be absolute chaos already with the forced removal of the Albertsons banner from tons of stores. If it's an Albertsons now it's more than likely going to be a Vons or Pavilions. I don't see them hanging a Ralphs sign on a building that obviously looks like and runs like a Albertsons/Vons.rwsandiego wrote: ↑September 14th, 2023, 4:54 pmThis is so true, @ClownLoach. I remember the palpable excitement at my local Vons store in the runup to the SWY/ACI merger over implementing house-made guacamole and salsa, cut fruit prepared in-store, and the abandonment of pre-sliced deli meats in favor of freshly-sliced every time. The employees were practically giddy. As a customer, I liked it (and still like it at Safeway), too. There was something about the old Albertsons' (and later Essential Everyday) brands that seemed "off." ACI, smartly IMO, tweaked "Safeway [fill in the blank]" into "Signature." There's something about "Signature" that sounds better than "Essential Everyday" and "Kroger." When we look at the Safeway store brands Kroger didn't sell to C&S (O-Organics Signature [fill in the blank]) it becomes apparent they might use those names post-merger and we will see Signature (conventional), Private Selections (premium), Simple Truth, ("all-natural"), O-Organics, and Lucerne brands at the new company.ClownLoach wrote: ↑September 14th, 2023, 11:09 am I think that Kroger is going to make far fewer changes than we expect. They used to operate like a giant wholesaler that also owned and operated some stores (ironically, like C&S). I think they're going to leave Kroger formats separate from ACI formats for quite some time to create the image of competition and choice. Not that different from how ACI handled their merger with Safeway which arguably has been a successful marriage in the difficult SoCal market other than high prices which Kroger is also guilty of at Ralphs. Albertsons was dead in the water in SoCal and now leads multiple markets. We like to criticize ACI using seemingly Albertsons merchandising with Safeway merchandise but it does seem to work somehow. And they've done it by maintaining subtle differences between their formats to the point where as we know they have viable stores practically next door to one another with different banners...
Taking San Diego as an example where Vons outnumbers Ralphs, do you see Kroger keeping both Vons and Ralphs banners?ClownLoach wrote: ↑September 14th, 2023, 11:09 am...They really have laid the groundwork for doing the same at Kroger. It took about 3 years to integrate those two companies and 5 years to really start making changes (PNW Albertsons to Safeway rebrand initiative, Pavilions relaunch initiative etc.). With how much larger Kroger is I expect 5+ before you see real change aside from the immediate merger required banner changes. I have every expectation that the Albertsons units kept will rebrand with ACI names not KR names. No Albertsons is getting a Ralphs sign unless it's remodeled to the Ralphs format and so forth. The Albertsons will become Vons. This is also a reason they're ramping up the Pavilions name because of the downscale reputation of Vons vs Albertsons; in the richer communities taking the Albertsons "down" to a Vons is going to be perceived negatively. Supposedly another South OC Albertsons after San Clemente is rebranding to Pavilions.
Remember that Ralphs had arguably a very bad transition when they merged in Alpha-Beta in SoCal. Those stores were wildly inconsistent and were nothing like a Ralphs. They have less Ralphs bannered stores now than before they added in Alpha-Beta. How many of those Alpha-Beta conversions are left today? This coupled with the botched Lucky-Albertsons combination which did the same thing also had a bad result.
The Safeway-Albertsons merger despite all the criticism we throw at them is really the model for a well executed merger. No disruption aside from divests. Stores that stayed consistent and slowly changed brands, decor, layouts etc. The only major visible change began when they started rolling the first "combined" decor package that we called Colorful Lifestyle here, an obvious combination of Albertsons and Safeway decor, along with the disappointment of the Florida Modern decor and in both cases unified the center store layouts as best as possible around the existing refrigeration and such. Now they have also subtly reminded the customer that Albertsons is Vons and vice versa. So in this new rebrand insanity if allowed they won't really blink when their Albertsons becomes a Vons as perceptions now are it's the same. But if it changed banners to Ralphs - it is not a Ralphs in any way shape or form, and can't just become one overnight.
I still think their intent is to operate like a supply company and a stores company separated internally. Hence they can run lots of formats. They ran Fred Meyer and QFC for how long without changing banners? It worked out fine for everyone and if it wasn't for the fact that they're acquiring the Safeway and Albertsons names in the same market I'm sure they wouldn't change a thing. I see them running Ralphs, Vons, and Pavilions for many years to come. It is very much obvious they'll educate everyone over time that they're part of "the Kroger Family of Stores" and hang a "fruit cart" sign on everything eventually, but when they introduced that goofy cart that was really their way of saying that the marketing experts told them don't change all the signs to Kroger or you're going to regret it.