business news in context, analysis with attitude

FYI…regarding yesterday's story…

YCDIYOWCDIFY = "You Can Do It Yourself Or We Can Do It For You"

We got a number of emails yesterday concerning the stories about Ahold, Albertsons, and Meijer all getting on the efficiency bandwagon, and out commentary suggesting that all the efficiency in the world doesn’t necessarily create a shopping experience that is a real and vital alternative to the other stores that are out there.

MNB user Robert J. Sansone wrote:

As a small resource, we find it consistently frustrating to try to deal with the small and mid-sized/regional chains in terms of bringing newness to their shelves. Their slotting and in-and-out costs are prohibitive for small businesses to participate in off-shelf promotions. It is a rare occasion when the category manager will consider a fair "test" of a new range of products.

The small resource represents an opportunity for the chain to differentiate itself from its competitors. The small resource is far and away more motivated to contribute not only to the bottom line, but to the requisite innovation the small and mid-sized chains must have to compete against the 600-pound gorillas. However, in the impulse businesses where small vendors can make a difference, the CM usually cannot be bothered with "setting up a new vendor," "such a small volume potential," etc. They cannot see the forest... It is precisely that small range/impulse item/resource that will show their customer "...look! we ARE different from -Mart. We Do have things they don't have. We have a reason for you to come to our store for your Rx. Our shopping experience is different."

Yet, the CM only considers those vendors who show at NACDS, ECRM, etc. Small companies cannot afford to spend 10's of thousands of dollars on a show for the privilege of watching the buyers walk by nodding their heads. ALL of these chains operate in a vacuum when it comes to small resources, and they do not pay attention to the little things that make big differences to their customers. A little Marketing 101 would go along way in the chain business.

Meijer came in for some criticism. MNB user Glenn Cantor wrote:

Included in the statement accompanying Meijer's announcement that it will lay-off 350 people in supervisor and administrative positions is the quote, "This wasn't about people. It was about positions."

Obviously, and how cold!!!!!!!!!!!!! Especially since Meijer recently announced that their union members will be among the highest paid retail workers in that region of the country.

One can only hope that the PEOPLE who shop in the Meijer stores will now want to shop with a company that "is about people."

Another MNB user wrote:

There was an article recently about Meijer union employees being the "Best Paid in the Industry". I wonder how many are singing "look for the union label" now!

MNB user David Peterson wrote:

Instead of cutting costs, Albertson's should take a look at the September issue of Consumer Reports Magazine....consumers ranked them 30th with neutral ratings in all four categories (prices, checkout speed, service and cleanliness). Maybe an identity problem? They don't stand out in any area.

Regarding all our stories about nutrition and obesity, MNB user Al Kober wrote:

Let keep a better balance between eating more protein and vegetables and focus more on the carbs and sugars. That's where real healthy eating begins, with a balanced diet and not just more or less fruits (with their high
sugars) and vegetables.

And finally, we received a fascinating email from Gristedes chairman and CEO John Catsimatidis regarding all the Fleming stories that we've run lately, especially h=the various emails that we got last week about the role that former Fleming CEO Dean Werries may have played in the company's downfall:

I owned Pantry Pride in late 80's and early 90's…

Fleming's downfall started with Werries being chairman. He took Great companies like Malone & Hyde and destroyed them as well as the good people that ran them. He got rid of anyone with common sense. He sued most of his customers for one reason or another.

In 1991, he injected Fleming as a Partner in Pantry Pride, which was a maneuver to eventually own Pantry Pride 100% and help create a Fleming Retail division (which was a Disaster). In other words, "how to Screw your Customers and end up with their company."

I resisted and survived well, because of my resources. But other customers did not do so well.

But I am still saddened by the fact that they destroyed Pantry Pride.

For that reason, another name for Fleming was The Evil Empire. They destroyed many of their customers but eventually destroyed themselves.

And That Started with Dean Werries.

Let the Truth Be Told. Fleming invested 100M in south Florida in Retail (Pantry Pride) and within two years they ended up closing most of the operation.
KC's View: