business news in context, analysis with attitude

I got the following email from an MNB reader about my criticism of Subway and suggestion that supermarkets not license out its products for sale in their stores:

I have been involved in restaurant brands evolving into supermarket items for years and can tell you that there is a flip side to your concern that selling a Subway brand item in a supermarket encourages consumers to leave the supermarket and go to Subway.  Restaurants, particularly those operated by franchisees who are concerned that having their brand available at the supermarket takes people out of the restaurant and that is normally a huge hurdle to overcome at any restaurant brand owner.  The upside to both is that satisfying the consumer with the brand they want helps both the supermarket and the restaurant operator because it reinforces the satisfaction the consumer gets when using that brand.   It encourages consumers to go to restaurant when that is the convenient option and can be a good impulse buy for the supermarket when the consumer sees a brand there. 

You made the assumption that Subway was looking to license the ready made sandwich, the market could be for a line of Subway sandwich sauces or breads or other items for the consumer to use when making their own sandwiches at home using products bought at the grocery and reinforcing the Subway brand even when eating at home.  Food for thought !!

I don't much care what they're licensing out.  I'll stick by my original comment - that if supermarkets can't make a better sandwich or, for that matter sell better bread, meat and cheese, then maybe they should get out of the food business.

Another MNB reader wrote:

Supermarket subs aren’t great at all. Those deli people are so busy multitasking they don’t have the same kind of time or commitment as a sub shop that only does one thing. Plus the supermarket charges more. I used to use Subway a lot but decided five years ago to stop eating fast food.

You're right - a lot of stores don't have the commitment.  Doesn't mean they can't have the commitment.  They just have to make the commitment to be better.

Another MNB reader wrote:

Just one point on Subway.  My son worked there while in high school and he would tell me horror stories on the quality of the ingredients.  Pressed Subway meat from ??? or Boars Head at your local supermarket or deli?  Doesn't seem like much of a question. 


Regarding the Jeff Bezos decision to step down from the CEO role at Amazon, MNB reader Rich Heiland wrote:

It could be as simple as a creative guy who likes to innovate, take things to new heights realizes that Amazon is finally a mature company and it's boring him. When I was in the newspaper business I was a fixer-upper publisher. I'd go to a broken newspaper, fix it and in two to three years, I'd move on. Why? I was not that good at running a mature, well-functioning paper. But I was good at getting the paper to that point and loved the excitement of that. I always made sure I had create successors, left a good management team. Maybe that's what this is about. Bezos needs a challenge. He needs to build, not maintain. 

To your point about whether he moves on...I always told my successor at a paper not to call unless the world was about to end. I didn't share all my views of the paper, staff because I didn't want to pass on my prejudices. My message was "it's your paper now." Guess what? They didn't call....hire good people, turn them loose to learn and when you leave you don't have to look back.

Chiming in on the discussion about mandated hazard pay, and kroger's decision to close two Southern California stores rather than absorb a $4/hour increase at units that were underperforming, one MNB reader wrote:

As a Kroger employee in California  I can tell you Kroger does not value their employees.  Don’t just take my word for it, ask any Ralph’s /Food for Less employee). We got hazard pay for a few weeks early in the pandemic ($2.00/hr), and then nothing . They continually reduced all COVID health protocols until they didn’t follow any except masking which they didn’t particularly enforce. People got sick, spread it in the restrooms, lunch room, etc.  and they pretended nothing was happening … They still don’t care…

Another precinct heard from.

Another MNB reader wrote:

Just wondering if the cities that are wanting to mandate “hazard pay” to grocery workers have already increased pay for their front line workers such as police, fire and EMT workers???

Good question.