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In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Albertsons CEO Larry Johnston laid out his vision of the grocery industry’s future:

  • Johnston predicts that there will be ‘dramatic consolidation” in the grocery industry over the next 10 to 20 years, as regional chains and independents decide they want to “monetize their family assets.” He also says that Albertsons plans on being one of the companies doing the consolidating.

  • Johnston defines companies like Wal-Mart and Costco as destination stores that are rely primarily on price to attract shoppers. For Albertsons, he says, the primary reason for shopping there is not price, but rather location.

  • In explaining how Albertsons will move beyond its current investment in online shopping, Johnston tells the AP, “When you arrive at the store, we´ll hand you a personal digital assistant, which you´ll plug into your basket. You´ll put in your security code, and it (the PDA) will automatically bring up your shopping list, which you´ve put into your computer at your leisure at home. And you´ll automatically be routed through the store efficiently, because we´ll have global positioning systems. … We´ll alert you to specials as you go down the aisles. As you pull the product off the shelf, you´ll scan it yourself in front of the personal digital assistant. And it will take it out of our inventory and automatically put it on your credit card.”

KC's View:
This sounds like a guy who has a vision of the future, and is positioning his company to be there to capitalize on the opportunities that may be available.

We think that Johnston’s great gift may be that he comes from outside the food industry, and that he sees the world through a wider prism.