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Kroger yesterday announced its fiftieth consecutive fiscal quarter of positive same-store sales growth, with Q1 sales that were up 4.7 percent to $34.6 billion from $33.1 billion during the same period a year ago; excluding fuel, sales were up 7.8 percent. Same-store sales were up 2.4 percent for the period, excluding fuel.

Q1 net income rose about 10 percent to $680 million.

In a statement, CEO Rodney McMullen said that the company is "very pleased with a solid quarter during which we continued to strengthen our connection with customers and expand our ClickList offering to more customers in more markets. Fifty consecutive quarters of positive identical supermarket sales growth, excluding fuel, is extraordinary. Our associates work tirelessly to produce these consistently remarkable results. We've been through all kinds of business cycles during the last 50 quarters, and we've demonstrated time and again that regardless of the environment, you can count on Kroger to continue executing our strategy, investing in growth and creating value for our customers and shareholders."

And, the Cincinnati Business Courier writes that Kroger "is looking at getting into the prepared foods business å la Blue Apron."

On an analyst conference call this week, the story says, McMullen left open the possibility that Kroger could launch such an effort on its own, or buy an existing business.

"Absolutely,” McMullen said. “We would look at any and all approaches. The thing that’s important is if we find somebody to make an investment in that would value the leverage that we bring to the party, as well. We would be very open to doing it on our own or doing it with somebody, and I think if you look at our track record, we’ve taken both approaches.”

The Courier also reports that Kroger has expansion plans for Mariano's, the urban store chain that it acquired when it bought Roundy's last year; it has set a goal of opening four or five new stores a year, on a current base of about 30. McMullen described it as "a very aggressive capital plan."

As for remodeling of existing Roundy's units, Kroger execs say they are behind schedule, but not concerned.

“On remodeling stores and making some of those changes it took a little longer to get started than what we would have guessed,” McMullen said. “Now why we thought we could have got it started so quickly I’m not sure, and we’ll learn that for the next time we do something, because we’re still doing it faster than what we could do it within one of our historical Kroger divisions.”
KC's View:
I find myself wondering if one of the reasons that the Roundy's remodels are going more slowly than originally planned might have something to do with Kroger trying to figure out how far any of these stores can be pushed into new directions. It may be that these are mainstream stores that need more than a facelift, but figuring out where they fit into a company that is doing some very interesting things - ranging from ClickList to Main & Vine - may take some time. Better to go a little slowly in the beginning and get it right, than rush in and make mistakes. Speed, in this case, probably would look better to Wall Street than Main Street, and Kroger doesn't want to make that mistake.