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The Chicago Tribune reports that "for the past couple of months, Minnesota-based Supervalu has been using Jewel's 180 outlets as a laboratory. It's discounting many Jewel items, seeking to increase the value of visiting Jewel apart from price and taking cues from consumers in others ways it's not ready to share publicly.

"'Not only will (consumers) get competitive pricing, but they will experience something different than what they've experienced before, and I wanted to make sure that we take the necessary time to learn from Jewel,' Supervalu Chairman Wayne Sales, who added the post of chief executive this summer, told analysts recently.

"The company said last month, about six weeks into the experiment, it was moving more goods at Jewel, but gross profits had yet to improve. The idea is to take the lessons learned here, where Jewel remains a market leader, and eventually apply some of them to weaker chains in the company. But Sales seems to have learned the lesson of his predecessor as CEO, former Wal-Mart exec Craig Herkert. There will be no broad-brush approach to the company's problems."
KC's View:
In some ways, one gets the sense that Supervalu is just trying to plug the leaks in the Titanic, hoping it can prevent the ship from sinking before it sells the whole damn thing off. If Jewel is the jewel, then maybe it can polish it to the extent that it makes the rest of the enterprise more attractive.

Jewel may be a leader in the market, but that may have more to do with legacy issues and real estate ... not actual enthusiasm, which the company's competitors are trying to capture. The company can sell more stuff through aggressive pricing, but the question is whether that will make it more competitive and differentiated in the long run.