Supervalu, which operates Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Save-A-Lot and other stores, says that it will cut the number of items it offers per store, in some cases by as much as 25 percent in efforst to highlight its store branded items and extract lower prices from vendors.
After the item reductions, "I don't think the consumer is going to look at it and say we've taken any choice away; in fact, I think ... the consumer will look at better choice," Supervalu Chief Executive Craig Herkert told analysts in a conference call Tuesday.
Supervalu and other grocers are experiencing difficult challenges that aren't going away. Shoppers are making fewer trips to stores and buying fewer items, sticking with necessities. A Supervalu competitor, Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., Montvale, N.J., reported third-quarter losses grew sharply from a year ago because of the weakened economy, which has pompted shoppers' drastically changing habits.
The cut in items is less about eliminating entire product brands than redundant package sizes, Herkert says. Bathroom tissue, for example, had so many package sizes that full cases of product couldn't be stocked on shelves.
Source: Supervalu.com, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journals,