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The Des Moines Register reports that He-Vee plans to expand outside the Midwest for the first time, with plans to build seven new stores in Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky, in 2023, as well as build a Tennessee distribution facility to service those units.

Here's how the paper frames the story:

"The Des Moines Register obtained a video of Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker announcing plans to build the Tennessee distribution facility, which will initially service seven new stores in Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky, in 2023. Hy-Vee posted the video on Zipline, the company’s internal communication platform for employees.

"A spokesperson with Hy-Vee declined to comment on the expansion.

"According to Edeker’s statements in the video, posted Wednesday, Dec. 8, Hy-Vee intends to open two stores in the Nashville metro area, one in Knoxville and one in Memphis, all in Tennessee, with additional stores landing in Huntsville, Alabama; Louisville, Kentucky; and Indianapolis, Indiana.

"The new distribution facility in Nashville will be the company's first outside of Iowa, where it has similar facilities in Chariton and Cherokee … Edeker said Hy-Vee expects to build at least 21 stores in the four-state region by 2025. According to the video, select Hy-Vee employees will begin relocating to the Nashville region as early as January 2022.

"Currently, the company has more than 93,000 employees at more than 285 stores in eight Midwestern states: Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin."

KC's View:

The decision by Hy-Vee would appear to put it in a position where it has to compete to an even greater degree with Kroger and Publix, which has been moving into the region from the southeast.

MNB fave Burt Flickinger, managing director of the Strategic Resource Group, tells the Register that it's "an interesting time for Hy-Vee to move south given their unbalanced, lack of success in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market … They never reached the size and scale in the state of Minnesota that they had hoped for because they just weren't able to compete head-to-head with a high volume of food operators in Minneapolis, most notably Costco and Target."

I'm not sure things get easier as Hy-Vee moves in another direction … though it never should be about easy.

If it works out, this will be seen as a smart strategic move.  If it doesn't … well, I keep thinking about the end of Unforgiven, in which Gene Hackman tells Clint Eastwood that he "does not deserve to die like this."  And Eastwood says, "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."