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Now that the sale of much of Albertsons to Supervalu has been announced – it will take about four months to close, according to reports – the Wall Street Journal reports on the task facing Supervalu CEO Jeff Noddle:

“Mr. Noddle hopes to lure back shoppers by re-establishing the (mainstream) supermarket as the center of convenience in American life. Although changes at Albertson's stores won't be immediate, Mr. Noddle plans to transform them over time to include expanded online delivery and additional services such as dry cleaning. Supervalu's new private-label natural-food line, Nature's Best, will become available at the Albertsons stores -- a move Mr. Noddle says should make natural food more affordable…”

And, Noddle “plans to apply some of the successful strategies used in the company's Save-A-Lot stores, the small, low-priced stores that represent the bulk of Supervalu's grocery stores and cater to lower- and middle-income consumers.”

Part of the challenge facing Supervalu is that it has something of a mess to clean up because Albertsons has been weakened by “years of inconsistent strategies, patchwork acquisitions and weak management.”

Speaking of weak management…Noddle did confirm yesterday that Albertsons CEO Larry Johnston will not remain with the company.
KC's View:
Noddle has supermarkets in his DNA, and has a fundamental understanding of what makes a store work and what makes customers tick. Johnston had none of that and, worse, didn’t even understand what he didn’t know. Or maybe he didn’t know what he didn’t understand. You get our point.

From what we can tell about Noddle’s statements to this point, it sounds like Supervalu will be making investments in its new stores, understanding that it has to do so in order to make the company work again. That’s a good thing, we think. If the first order of business were to be cost-cutting, we’d be a little worried that the stores wouldn’t be getting any better.

And the stores need to get better.

We couldn’t help but think yesterday about the differences between Noddle and Johnston. For some reason, it reminded us of what our mother (who was barely five feet tall) used to say to us when we were in our teens and growing to the point where we were about to start looking down on her.

“You may be taller than me,” she used to say. “But I’ll always be bigger than you.”