Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen Talks Amazon Deal, Strategy, and Fresh Produce to The Wall Street Journal
CINCINNATI, OH - For one of the United States’ biggest grocery chains, Kroger has been decidedly quiet in the past few months as Amazon and Whole Foods have dominated the retail airwaves.
But don’t think that doesn’t mean CEO Rodney McMullen hasn’t been paying attention. In a new interview with the Wall Street Journal, McMullen tackles some of the tough questions the industry has been awaiting answers for, including his response to the aforementioned team up, food waste, and the ugly produce movement.
On Kroger’s response to the Amazon-Whole Foods Deal:
“There isn't anything from a strategy standpoint that we will change because the strategy we've been executing assumed something [like the Amazon deal] would happen. It makes it a lot easier in terms of helping [Kroger executives] understand the sense of urgency.”
On whether Kroger is considering a bid for Albertsons:
“I always tell people that if there's anything out there, you should assume we've looked at it.”
On if he worries about Amazon-Whole Foods, Walmart gaining strength, or chains like Aldi/Lidl:
“I worry about all of them. And I worry about restaurants. We operate in an industry that is $1.5 trillion in terms of how much people spend on food. If people are eating a meal, we want to get our fair share of that meal. Anybody who is getting a meaningful part of that, we'd worry about.”
On what Kroger’s plans for food waste are:
“Over the last four years, we've partnered with local food banks and provided over 1 billion meals. In some of our fresh departments, that would have been product we'd have thrown away."
"We were able to partner with local food banks so fresh product that is still high-quality to eat, but you wouldn't sell from an appearance standpoint, [is donated]. We legitimately believe we will be able to get every store to be zero waste.”
On the ugly produce trend:
“I grew up on a farm. Last Sunday, I went out to see my parents and their garden, and I find the produce that looks the ugliest tastes the best.”
On the future of Kroger and retail:
“It wouldn't surprise me that customers would be in the store eating but they would use an app to order what they want. When they are finished, [the store clerk] would deliver the groceries to them. It will be so easy because we'll be able to predict a lot of the things you want. The associates you engage with will be so knowledgeable about where tortillas came from. I believe some stores will be big and some small. And it will be the combination of all those things that make it special.”
Want to read Wall Street Journal’s full article and Q&A with Rodney McMullen? Click this link here, and keep following AndNowUKnow for the latest on retail strategy in our industry.