THIBODAUX, La. — Donald Rouse, president of Rouses Supermarket said he is fortunate to be operating in a region that is rebuilding and expanding, making the retailer immune to some of the economic pressures felt in other areas.
“The economy in southern Louisiana is anti-cyclical. We are still rebuilding and there is a lot of activity. Our business is up in all locations,” Rouse said.
Rouses operated about 25 upscale stores before it acquired 21 stores from A&P late last year.
Rouses closed four of A&P's stores and is now on schedule to remodel the remaining stores and opening new Rouses' locations in Louisiana and southern Mississippi.
“Sales at the newly acquired stores are continuing to increase,” Rouse said. Overall, the company's store sales have risen 8% to 10% this year, compared with the same time last year.
While Rouse acknowledged that prices on certain foods, such as flour-based products, have gone up, the retailer remains competitive with its two major competitors, Wal-Mart and Winn-Dixie.
“We have a new arrangement with C&S Wholesale Grocers [a distributor in Keene, N.H.]. They can keep us more competitive than some of the other supermarkets are able to,” Rouse said.
In addition, Rouses differentiates itself from other grocery retailers in the area by stressing its Louisiana-based business and Cajun offerings. It boils crawfish and shrimp regularly and has smokehouse kitchens. Chefs prepare homemade sausage — “turduchens” — and Cajun specialty meats in its kitchens.
“We grew up boiling seafood. Those out-of-town chains don't even know how,” the company says on its website.