retail news in context, analysis with attitude

•  From the Wall Street Journal this morning:

"Grocery sales boomed throughout the pandemic. One of supermarkets’ biggest and least-known suppliers missed out.

"TreeHouse Foods Inc., based in Oak Brook, Ill., is the nation’s largest manufacturer of store-brand foods. Its low prices and variety helped make it a growing threat to packaged-food giants such as Kraft Heinz Co. , General Mills Inc. and Kellogg Co. over the past decade.

"When Covid-19 disrupted the U.S. food sector, however, TreeHouse’s strengths became liabilities, the company’s top executives said, preventing it from benefiting as much as other grocery suppliers during the pandemic.

"Over the past year, TreeHouse ran into more capacity constraints and supply-chain problems than well-known brands because of coronavirus outbreaks. Cost cuts had to be delayed while labor, packaging, ingredients and freight got pricier. Not prepared to market its products online, TreeHouse fell behind as more consumers took their grocery shopping to e-commerce platforms."

CEO Steve Oakland explains the problem this way:  "We had built this supply chain designed for tremendous efficiency but very low volatility.  When the pandemic hit, we had complexity meet volatility."


•  The BBC reports that "the billionaire Issa brothers who own Asda have bought the British fast food chain, Leon.

"More than 70 Leon restaurants across the UK and Europe have been sold to the brothers' giant petrol forecourt business EG Group … The deal includes 42 company-owned restaurants, as well as 29 franchise sites which are mainly found in airports and train stations across the UK and a handful of European countries such as the Netherlands and Spain."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.