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Andrew Nadin, EVP and chief customer officer at Southeastern Grocers, has penned a letter to vendors - referred to as "valued partners" - in which he lays out the rationale for the company's decision to sell 62 stores and a distribution center to  Ahold Delhaize-owned Food Lion, plus explore sale options for all remaining Bi-Lo stores, which effectively ends its use of that banner.

"The successful execution of our long-term transformation strategy may at times require difficult decisions," he writes.  "These transactions were a critical strategic move and an important next step for our continued growth and broader evolution as a business. 

"We recognize that you will be eager to assess the impact of this announcement on our partnership and your volume of business within this footprint. It’s important to note that the stores involved in these transactions can remain a robust part of your business in the Southeast. Those stores not involved in the Food Lion transaction will remain in active operation with SEG – potentially until April of 2021. And as we have shared, we are continuing to expand our store network in our core footprint as demonstrated by our recent acquisitions of (4) former Lucky’s Market locations and (4) Earth Fare locations.

"After the conclusion of these transactions, we will continue with approximately 425 successful stores in operation through our Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie banners. These actions will facilitate greater investment in our remaining footprint so we can continue to provide an exceptional shopping experience our customers can always count on.

"We are now in our third year of a five-year transformation, and despite operating within an increasingly competitive sector of the economy, we continue to generate success in the marketplace. As a company that has experienced considerable change over the last three years, this is a significant next step in our transition to becoming fit for growth and moving forward successfully."

Nadin goes on:

"As we enter the next phase of our business transformation, this strategic market shift will allow us to optimize our growth strategy by concentrating our thriving business on three banners. Our next stage of evolution will usher in a period of unprecedented capacity for the development and growth of our people, innovation in our stores and products … We are relying on you to continue providing the products and services we need to serve our customers. We are a people-first company and are committed to putting our associates, customers and valued partners at the heart of our decisions. We know that you hold the same level of dedication and commitment in continuing to give our customers a store they can always count on."

KC's View:

For me, it is all about what "business transformation" means.  Is it just rearrange deck chairs on a ship that is moving in the same old direction?  Or is it really transforming the business for a 21st century consumer who is dealing with new realities and who has new needs and desires?