Safeway Open to New Retail Formats

Given the broad geographic swath it cuts across the U.S. and Canada, Safeway is about prospects for new formats, Robert Edwards, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said last week though he did not provide specifics. He said the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company could introduce new formats once it has completed upgrading its store base to lifestyle formats over the next

NEW YORK — Given the broad geographic swath it cuts across the U.S. and Canada, Safeway is “optimistic” about prospects for new formats, Robert Edwards, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said here last week — though he did not provide specifics.

He said the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company could introduce new formats once it has completed upgrading its store base to lifestyle formats over the next two years.

Speaking at the annual Morgan Stanley Global Consumer and Retail Conference, Edwards echoed remarks by other Safeway executives that the company might consider smaller-format stores similar to the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets Tesco began opening in the West this month.

“If there is profit in a small-format vehicle, we could easily duplicate it, though it would be a challenge to make a small box work, so the jury is still out on that,” he said.

Asked about Safeway's reaction to the Fresh & Easy concept, Edwards said, “Our early read is, it looks more like a price vehicle than a fresh vehicle.”

In response to another question, he said Safeway has not detected any trading down by consumers. “We looked at that at the end of the third quarter and saw no evidence of trading down,” he said.