OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. -- Ed Hanson, senior vice president, marketing and merchandising for Jewel-Osco, an Albertsons banner in Melrose Park, Ill., vowed the 284-store chain would stay the course in 2003 and strengthen its market share despite anticipated changes in Chicago's food retailing landscape.
Hanson was the special guest speaker at a dinner held here earlier this month celebrating the recent merger of the Grocery Manufacturers Sales Executives of Chicagoland and the Merchandising Executives Club into the Grocery Merchandising Association of Chicagoland (GMA), Lombard, Ill. The organizations officially merged on Jan. 1.
With speculation surrounding Safeway's plans to divest Dominick's Finer Food, Oak Brook, Ill., a local competitor, Hanson said Jewel-Osco was strongly positioned in Chicago's evolving marketplace. "The marketplace will change dramatically in 2003," he said. "It motivates us to do our best and strive harder. Jewel-Osco's plan for 2003 is to maintain and grow market share."
Several initiatives that aid Jewel-Osco in reaching this goal include expanding its food and drug combination formats in the Chicago area and in Arizona. "Dual brands is something we're looking forward to expanding in 2003," said Hanson.
The retailer also has plans to further explore its retail partnerships with Toys R Us and Krispy Kreme. Jewel-Osco currently has six test stores with Toys R Us-branded toy sections, as previously reported by SN. The retailer also has more than 100 stores that sell Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
"Partnerships with a visible brand name give Jewel-Osco a price-quality edge in the category," he explained. Early results of the new toy sections are "well ahead of expectations," Hanson said. "[These partnerships] are beneficial for all parties involved. The customer identifies with a reputable brand and recognizes its value without making an extra trip out."
Hanson announced further expansion of other strong categories for Jewel-Osco, including anticipated rollouts of its integrated natural and organic sections and more Jewel Express fuel centers. The retailer has 17 fuel center locations, with half of them providing convenience stores and two of them providing car-washing services.
"They're 100% incremental sales to the food class of trade," he said, as "consumers have really embraced this one-stop-shopping convenience."
On the local front, Jewel-Osco's will take a proactive stance on ethnic marketing and merchandising that caters to Chicago's Hispanic and Jewish communities. It also has a "very strong merchandising plan for our Polish store at the end of the year." The new concept store will cater to Chicago's large Polish community, Hanson told SN. He declined to give further details except to say that the store will open by the end of 2003.
The company is also testing smaller-footprint stores such as a new 22,000 square-foot location on Ohio and State streets. The store is situated on the first floor of an apartment high-rise.
"Experimenting with smaller footprints is a challenge we've met head on," Hanson told the gathering of food industry manufacturers, brokers, wholesalers, retailers, distributors, media and service agencies.
In the current shaky economic climate, Hanson said it's important for the retailer to make a continual effort to provide value-priced products. "Consumers are aggressively shopping all classes of trade for price and value, and the food industry is no exception."