retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We reported the other day that Albertsons-owned Safeway reportedly has confirmed that a 16,664-square-foot vacant store that used to be a Safeway and later became a Fresh & Easy, in the Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco, will be converted to the Andronico’s banner … the goal is to use the Andronico’s name - it was acquired by the company in 2016 - to attract customers from upscale Seacliff, the community next door.

I commented:

Andronico’s was for many years one of the most respected specialty food retailers in the country, and so I am happy to hear that it may be getting a second life. I would, however, sound one cautionary note. Just calling it Andronico’s won’t make it an Andronico’s. You need talent and passion and commitment to high-quality food and highest common denominator service if you are going to live up to the reputation. Otherwise, you;’re just going to diminish the legacy and disappoint shoppers.

Prompting MNB reader Tom Murphy to write:

I had the experience of working as an integration consultant with SaveMart Supermarkets when they bought 120+ stores from an Albertson’s divestiture. They picked up a number of northern California sites that didn’t quite fit into their current FoodMaxx and SaveMart formats. So, they decided to reopen and rebrand these as Lucky Stores which had a long, positive relationship with NoCal customers.

However, this rebanner was less than successful for at least two reasons: 1) no one in SaveMart had any expertise in this format making it difficult to recreate the “essence” of a Lucky Store and 2) the NoCal consumers over the years since Lucky’s closed, had in their own minds “hyped” its image, services, prices, etc. to the point well beyond reality and to a point that could never be achieved in a banner relaunch.

I suspect this latter challenge will inflict itself on the Safeway efforts with Andronico’s.

We took note the other day of a New York Times story about all the efforts that beverage manufacturers engage in to support recycling education, but the “one approach to recycling that many of these companies do not support has proved to actually work: container deposit laws, more commonly known as bottle bills, which cost them lots of money.”

One MNB reader responded:

As early seventies residents in suburban Portland, where numerous walking trails were strewn with pop bottles, regional convenience chain Plaid Pantry held a weekend campaign to pay two cents for every bottle and can turned in to their stores. This was before any thoughts of legislated bottle deposits.

In that weekend, every bottle and can disappeared from those trails. That action became the basis of Oregon’s pioneering bottle bill, promoted by progressive Governor Tom McCall, and fought viciously by bottlers. The bottlers lost.
As a part time citizen of Oregon, I’m betting you see very little bottle/can litter anywhere, a tribute to the program’s success.

Good point.

On the subject of Amazon’s continued interest in the grocery business, despite the fact that its Whole Foods acquisition has been labeled by some as a mixed success, one MNB reader wrote:

Whole Foods has not been able to shake the “Whole Paycheck” reputation under Amazon ownership. This is partly driven by their UNFI supply contract. This expensive, long term, contract runs through 2025.

A new, stand alone, Amazon “grow” chain would allow them to price more competitively through self distribution.

KC's View: