...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…
• The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that among the 115 locations being considered by Lidl when it begins operating in the US are seven in Georgia.
As reported earlier this week, Lidl appears to be ahead of schedule, and now says it will open its first 20 stores this summer, in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. But the paper also pushes a narrative that seems to be gaining traction in the media - that Kroger, which has an enormous footprint in the east coast markets that Lidl is targeting, may be vulnerable to this kind of competition.
I'm really just guessing here, but I suspect that the folks at Kroger have been playing close attention to how the competitive wars have been playing out in the UK, where discounters Aldi and Lidl have been eroding the market share advantages enjoyed by mainstream retailers such as Tesco. Part of the problem in the UK, I've always thought, was some combination of denial and hubris that led big retailers to think they were unassailable. But as we've often said here on MNB, there is no such thing as the unassailable business advantage. I think Kroger knows that.
• Southeastern Grocers, parent company to Bi-Lo, Fresco y Más, Harveys and Winn-Dixie, announced yesterday what it is calling "its largest-ever transformation of private label product, which will span approximately 3,000 items across all categories throughout each banner specific store throughout 2017. The company says that it "has tested more than 2,330 products and made over 2,260 quality improvements," has "developed a test kitchen and sensory lab tasting facility to capture valuable consumer insights," and as a result is introducing three new brands: SE Grocers Essentials, SE Grocers and Prestige.
I imagine that the folks at Southeastern Grocers have to be very concerned about Lidl's plans for the southeastern US ... and perhaps this expansion of its private label program is one way of expressing that.