Price Adjustments Take Time: Noddle

Supervalu is happy with the price position of its retail banners in some markets, but still has work to do in others, Jeff Noddle, chairman and chief executive officer of the Minneapolis-based company, said last week. It takes more than one quarter, and it takes more than several quarters in some cases, he said in response to a question about the company's price-competitiveness posed to him

NEW YORK — Supervalu is happy with the price position of its retail banners in some markets, but still has work to do in others, Jeff Noddle, chairman and chief executive officer of the Minneapolis-based company, said last week.

“It takes more than one quarter, and it takes more than several quarters in some cases,” he said in response to a question about the company's price-competitiveness posed to him at the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer and Retail Conference here. “We have to have other things in place first, whether it's standards or merchandising.”

He said he believes the company's retail banners, which include Albertsons, Jewel and several other regional chains, are more price-competitive than they were a year ago when Supervalu acquired most of the Albertsons chain.

In response to another question, Noddle said the company's wholesale customers have reacted very favorably to that acquisition.

“That has gone surprisingly well,” he said, noting that the only major exception was in Pennsylvania, where some customers had a conflict with Supervalu's acquired retail operations in that region. “There have been very few issues.”

Although Noddle said he had not yet visited one of Tesco's new Fresh & Easy stores — he was planning to do so this week — he said executives from Supervalu found the stores to be “a little plainer than we anticipated,” but pricing appeared competitive.

He also said Supervalu had expected more offerings in the prepared foods area, and he still expects to see considerable innovation from Tesco in that area. He also questioned the self-checkout aspect of the stores, noting that most customers are not comfortable with it. (See Page 6 for more on Tesco.)