Kroger: 125 Years of Growth

1883: Barney Kroger opens his first store, The Great Western Tea Co., in downtown Cincinnati. 1884: Kroger buys out his partner and opens his second store; company begins running regular newspaper ads. 1901: The company is the first grocery chain to operate its own bakery. 1902: Company incorporates as The Kroger Grocery & Baking Co., with 40 stores and $1.75 million in annual sales. 1904: Kroger

1883: Barney Kroger opens his first store, The Great Western Tea Co., in downtown Cincinnati.

1884: Kroger buys out his partner and opens his second store; company begins running regular newspaper ads.

1901: The company is the first grocery chain to operate its own bakery.

1902: Company incorporates as The Kroger Grocery & Baking Co., with 40 stores and $1.75 million in annual sales.

1904: Kroger offers meat and groceries under one roof for the first time after acquiring 14 Nagel meat markets and a packing house.

1908: By the company's 25th anniversary it has 136 stores in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and northern Kentucky, with 200 horses and wagons for deliveries.

1912: Kroger expands to St. Louis with 25 stores.

1928: Barney Kroger retires from active management and is succeeded by William H. Albers.

1930: Kroger forms its own produce-buying arm, Wesco Foods Co.

1935: Kroger converts 50 stores to new supermarket format.

1946: Company changes name to The Kroger Co.

1952: Kroger's annual sales exceed $1 billion for first time.

1955: Kroger joins with other companies to form Top Value Stamp Co.

1961: Kroger opens first SupeRx drug store in Milford, Ohio.

1963: Kroger's annual sales hit $2 billion mark for first time.

1968: Annual sales pass $3 billion.

1975: Annual sales pass $5 billion.

1979: Lyle Everingham becomes chairman and CEO.

1980: Annual sales top $10 billion.

1983: Kroger merges with Dillon Cos., observes 100th anniversary with theme, “Where New Ideas Come to Life.”

1984: Kroger purchases 86 Tom Thumb Food Stores.

1988: Kroger fends off a hostile takeover attempt by Herbert and Robert Haft of Dart Group and considers involving KKR as a “white knight” but opts instead to do a financial recapitalization after taking on huge debt and paying out a large dividend to shareholders.

1990: Joseph Pichler succeeds Everingham as chairman and CEO.

1999: Kroger becomes nation's largest conventional grocery company in $13 billion merger with Fred Meyer Inc., which adds Ralphs Grocery Co. in Southern California, Quality Food Centers in Seattle, Smith's Food & Drugs in the Southwest and Fred Meyer stores in the Pacific Northwest to its portfolio.

2004: David Dillon succeeds Pichler as chairman.

2005: Annual sales top $60 billion.

2006: Kroger directors establish first quarterly dividend since 1988 restructuring.

2008: Kroger celebrates 125th anniversary.