retail news in context, analysis with attitude

One MNB user wrote:

Having worked for 26 years at Fleming I am not the least bit surprised by the Supervalu announcement.  Mark Hansen was brought in to run Fleming from Wal Mart (Sam’s Club) and his insistence to bring the K-mart agreement into play brought the company to its knees within 5 years of his taking over.  In the case of Supervalu, the Albertson’s debt along with the usual inability of wholesalers to run retail operations was a disaster waiting to happen!  Having watched a 20 billion dollar Fleming dismantled in less than 6 months I feel for those who have dedicated so many years of quality service to SV.  For many years both Fleming and SV battled it out as 20 billion dollar wholesale rivals/competitors and were at the top of their game!  Sad to see one die years ago and the other, which should have grown stronger after the Fleming departure, looking for life support!

MNB user Bill Smillie wrote:

Remember Fleming.  The 2nd largest grocery wholesaler in the United States.  I hope SV can get something done before the end.  Wholesalers need to focus on wholesale, and let retailers focus on retail.

What's the old line ... those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it?

Regarding the emails we ran yesterday about Supervalu cutting out perks like free coffee to its associates, one MNB user wrote:

Do you think for one moment that the free coffee etc. has stopped flowing on the Exec. floor?  Or that they are flying coach?

When my former employer was going down the tubes the new CEO spent thousands of dollars on a state of the art sound system for his office.

Sad to say, this kind of crap seems to be more the rule than the exception.

And another MNB user chimed in:

I worked with Jewel-Osco briefly 2 years ago and loved the organization.  What struck me was their idea of competition.

At the local level, they knew prices were far too high.  At the headquarters level, they wanted profit margins.  Not profit, per se, but profit margins.  During my orientation, they compared themselves to the local regional players- including the small guys- but couldn’t pinpoint the role of competitors like Walmart or Costco.  When called out on it, they acknowledged the problem but didn’t know how to address it.

The other thing I learned at Jewel was that while I was surrounded by very smart, very experienced people, I wasn’t surrounded by people who understood data.  I think about data as ranging from the dunnhumby/Kroger relationship, anyone and Nielsen, or even just the knowledge of very good store managers.  That data wasn’t incorporated into the decision-making process.  The lack of data- along with the history of abrupt changes- lead to a culture of fear that prevented real innovation.

And finally, from another reader:

I'd like to reiterate my comment when SVU hired a WaMart exec to run their business ... I said to you ... What if it was a strategy by WM to take a competitor out of play ? It's in WM play book to remove competitors ! Now if you pin me to the wall I would have to say that I really don't believe it ... But don't you just love a good conspiracy?

It is amazing how many emails I've received along this line. People don't really believe it, but...
KC's View: