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Podcast: Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker talks expansion, innovation

Grocery retailer to extend Midwestern footprint into the South


This year, Midwestern grocer Hy-Vee unveiled plans to expand into four new states: Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. The move will bring the West Des Moines, Iowa-based chain its first Southern locations.

Currently, Hy-Vee’s footprint spans over 285 food and drug stores in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

“Really, this has just been a couple of years of just looking at the footprint that we have and how the market is evolving,” Hy-Vee Chairman, President and CEO Randy Edeker told Supermarket News in an interview at the recent FMI Midwinter Conference in Orlando, Fla.

“COVID blew up the grocery industry, and a lot has changed,” he explained. “So it’s not us departing the area that we’re in. It’s really looking to the future — where are we going to grow? And as we look at cities of over 150,000 people, those would be our targets. If you look at our [current] eight-state trade territory, there are only 18 cities with over 150,000 people.”

Hy-Vee is also known for its retail innovation in store formats — including large one-stop-shop stores and locations focused on convenience, foodservice, health and wellness, and wine and spirits — and in-store concepts. The latter include store-within-store displays featuring nontraditional supermarket offerings such as fitness gear, footwear, apparel and accessories, and bath and beauty, as well as nail salons and eyewear kiosks.

“We feel you have to keep trying things,” Edeker said. “How do you fire a bullet and then fire a cannonball? You go out and test some things and you measure those things and see what works and what the customer likes about it and what they don’t like about it.

“The consumer is spread all over the place today. So we’re just trying to find the formats that are driven by customers’ lifestyles,” he noted.

In addition, Hy-Vee recently expanded its already broad health care offering with the launch of telehealth and online pharmacy services, dubbed RedBox Rx, and extended its e-commerce presence beyond grocery pickup and delivery to ship-to-home services, covering such categories as bulk products, health and well-being, and pet supplies.

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