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Duncan: Perishable Conditions Shocking

NEW YORK — Supervalu’s new CEO last week said he was “shocked” at the poor conditions of perishable departments among the retailer’s corporate stores and wholesale customers, and that improving them would be a cornerstone of his plan to reverse the company’s fortunes.

Sam Duncan said his initial investigation into Supervalu revealed that some of Supervalu’s wholesale customers and licensees were not even buying meat or produce from the company because of their concerns over pricing, product quality and variety.


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“I was totally surprised. I had no clue,” Duncan, speaking at the Barclays Retail and Consumer Discretionary Conference here, said.

“I knew there was some significant opportunity in perishables, especially meat and produce, from the due diligence I had done in the organization starting back in July,” he added. “I was quite shocked at the poor conditions of perishable departments.”

Duncan said he was determined to address those concerns by tightening product-buying specifications under new appointees Mark Van Buskirk, executive vice president of marketing, and Steve Fox, SVP of food merchandising. Both Van Buskirk and Fox previously worked with Duncan at Fred Meyer.

Read more: Duncan Highlights Positives in Supervalu Q4

This team has already addressed what Duncan described as a wasteful practice of banners that were buying multiple brands of items like bananas and packaged salads. He also said that corporate-owned Save-A-Lot stores would convert to store-cut meat from pre-packaged product, emulating Save-A-Lot licensees whose meat programs were “substantially better” than corporate stores.

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