retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg reports that drugstore chain Walgreen Co. is talking to a range of food manufacturers - including Unilever, Nestle and Sara Lee - that could help it develop fresh foods and prepared meals that it could sell to its shoppers both as national and private brands.

“Everyone is time-starved and we have the most convenient 7,000 locations in the US,” Bryan Pugh, the company’s vice president of merchandising, tells Bloomberg. “They’re on-the-way-home destinations that are easy to get in and out of and will provide a good value.”

According to the story, Walgreen has not set a time or cost for an expanded food program, but is anxious to engage competitively with supermarkets, supercenters and even convenience stores.

Bloomberg notes that Pugh is about to hire someone to run the company’s fresh food program; it also suggests that some clues to Walgreen’s likely approach may be found in Pugh’s previous employer - Tesco.
KC's View:
Like Jimmy Durante used to say, “Everybody wants to get into the act...”

(Boy, I’m dating myself now. There are several generations of MNB readers that have absolutely no idea who I am talking about.)

Walgreen certainly is right about the convenience issue, but it is all going to be in the execution. Walgreen is going to have to convince people that it is a reliable source for fresh food, and that is a tall order.

But it also ought to be a wake up call for anyone who already is in the food business. There is a target on your back...and that’s the best reason in the world to get real focused on being a category killer in the food segment.