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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on how, in the dogfight among grocers in the Atlanta market, Ingles has proven to be a steadfast competitor - even when the top three names in the market are Kroger, Publix, and Wal-Mart Supercenters. As other grocery chains have left - among them A&P, Harris Teeter, and Cub - Ingles has managed to maintain its position with a full-service approach, adding pharmacies, gas stations, and even e-commerce capabilities.

According to Robert P. Ingle II, vice president of operations and son of the chain's founder, the company that bears his family's name is not bowing out of Atlanta, despite the tough competition and the fact that the company has closed several stores there over the past two years. In fact, it recently added a location in Conyers and plans a new store in Fayetteville - and about half of its 83 Georgia stores are in the Atlanta metro area. "We are very committed to our Georgia market," said Ingle in an e-mail to the paper (ingle rarely gives interviews, and would only consent to communicating with the paper via email).

Ingle said that the company is focused on a schedule of heavy promotions for the rest of the year, in order to keep customers' bills "low." It certainly is no coincidence that this happens at a time when Publix has gone to double couponing in Atlanta, and Wal-Mart managed to leapfrog over Ingles to take the third-ranked position in the marketplace.
KC's View:
The irony, of course, is that Ed Kolodzieski - who used to have a senior position at Ingles - left the company in May 2000 to join Wal-Mart's Neighborhood Market division. So, these two competitors know each other well.

That said, it remains an enormous challenge for Ingles to stay competitive under these conditions. It will take guile, vigilance, patience and an enormous amount of creativity - which is a tough combination to expect any retailer to have. Still, if it can continue to differentiate itself to consumers in a compelling way, you’d certainly think that it has a shot at surviving the Bentonville Behemoth, not to mention Kroger and Publix.