When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

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Ephrata1966
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When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by Ephrata1966 »

I just realized Kroger is the #1 grocery chain in pretty much every state between Texas and Virginia, west to Tennessee, with the exception of Florida where Publix takes their place. Louisiana I am not sure who really dominates. How did they originally spread out from Ohio? Has a lot of their growth been through acquisitions? I know they should give some credit to Albertsons and Safeway for some of their Houston area dominance, and even A&P (Super Fresh?) in the Atlanta area. And what happened to Kroger in Northern Virginia? I just know they were there in the 50's. Were the Northeastern chains too much for them?
wnetmacman
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Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by wnetmacman »

Ephrata1966 wrote:Louisiana I am not sure who really dominates.
Nobody.

Louisiana is very regionally oriented. There are only 9 Kroger stores in the entire state; 4 in Shreveport/Bossier, 1 in Alexandria and 4 in Lake Charles/Sulphur. Brookshire has dozens of their namesake stores mostly along the I-20 corridor, and about 16 Super 1 Foods stores all west of the Mississippi River (though a groundbreaking is taking place tomorrow in Lafayette for another). Rouses Markets just opened a store in Lafayette, and they are dominating New Orleans now. Albertsons only has stores in Shreveport/Bossier (2), Lake Charles (2), Lafayette (5), Alexandria (1) and about 8 or so stores in Baton Rouge, plus the Mandeville store. And Winn Dixie has shrunk down to serving Baton Rouge, New Orleans, the Northshore of Lake Ponchartrain, and Lafayette. There are only 11 Winn Dixie stores west of the Atchafalaya basin, where they once covered almost the whole state.

No one company other than Walmart serves the entire state.
Scott Greer
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Groceteria
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Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by Groceteria »

Kroger isn't really "dominant" in either of the Carolinas either, with only a fairly strong operation in the Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) region of NC and a few token stores in Columbia SC.

But to return the focus to history, Kroger was once a much bigger force in NC. The chain had a strong presence in the Triad (Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point) from the late 1940s to 1999, when the Triad stores were more or less swapped (an oversimplification) with Harris-Teeter for some Virginia locations. They built most of their own stores but also acquired some Family Mart units from A&P in the mid-1980s. The Triad stores built near the end were quite large; Harris-Teeter (not exactly known for compact stores itself) actually subdivided some of them.

Kroger moved somewhat aggressively into Charlotte in the late 1970s but departed in 1988, selling their stores to Bi-Lo, as has been documented elsewhere on the board.

In the Triangle, I know Kroger was in Durham at least as early as the late 1960s or early 1970s (maybe earlier), but they apparently did not have a major presence in Raleigh until they purchased the Hannaford locations there in the 1990s and started building some of their own stores around the same time.

There were formerly stores in Wilmington NC/Myrtle Beach SC, at least during the 1980s and 1990s, but I'm not sure about the whole history there nor about any former presence in Greenville/Spartanburg or Charleston SC.

I can also say (also discussed elsewhere on the board) that Kroger's entrance into the Atlanta market was through acquisition of that area's Piggly Wiggly stores. I believe this happened in the 1940s, but I'm still working on a major Atlanta update.
carolinatraveler
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Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by carolinatraveler »

Kroger's first move south was the purchase of the Jamison Stores in Roanoke, VA in the 1927-29 era, I believe 1928. They purchased 92 stores, including stores in Winston-Salem, Durham and Mt Airy, NC and in the Bluefield area of West Virginia, and in Johnson City, TN. The Jamison stores were converted to Kroger at that time, and Kroger signs went up in Winston-Salem and Durham (cannot confirm the conversion in Mt Airy), as well as stores to the other extremes in Johnson City, Bluefield, Danville and Lynchburg. Kroger is still strong in the southern Virginia valley, and in the Lynchburg-Danville market. In NC, Kroger lasted in Durham for a couple of years, left, and came back in about 1956-57. They operated continuously in W-S until the Harris Teeter trade a few years ago. Elsewhere in NC, they were latecomers to Raleigh, and could be found in Triangle extreme edges such as a store in Wilson that dated from the 1990s and closed about 5 years ago. They appeared in Wilmington in the 1980s, lasted thru the 1990s, and their single store there is a Harris Teeter today. Kroger expanded from their W-S to Greensboro and Burlington in the 1950s. They were briefly in metro Charlotte during the 1980s-90s, as far north and west as Hickory. There have never been any stores in NC west of the US 321 corridor.

Wayne Henderson
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rich
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Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by rich »

Kroger has had a long history in Atlanta. They opened stores in 1932 and acquired a local Piggly-Wiggly operation around the same time. Kroger bought a variety of Piggly-Wiggly operations in different regions during the 30s. They benefited from the decline of Colonial/Big Star (HQed in Atlanta) under Grand Union and the local Food Giant chain under SuperValu, not to mention the later, gradual self-destruction of Winn-Dixie.

In Nashville, they benefited from the stagnation of one-time local powerhouse, HG Hill and the inability of outside national chains like Winn-Dixie and National Tea to establish themselves there. There used to be quite a few Fleming-supplied indies, but these failed to capitalize on others' weaknesses.

Kroger seems to have done best where they had deep roots and have departed from places where they lacked this base.
Ephrata1966
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Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by Ephrata1966 »

Even though Kroger is an Ohio company, was Texas ever their most profitable state/region? How did they manage to overtake Weingarten's, Safeway, and Randalls in Houston? And does anyone know the history of their store in Denison (home of Eisenhower)? This looks like an oldie that may have started as another chain.
rich
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Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by rich »

Kroger left San Antonio in the early 90s, so I don't know that Texas has been an unalloyed success for them. HEB is a powerhouse in that area and probably explains Kroger's withdrawal. One of Kroger's long-term patterns has been to do poorly where there has been well capitalized local competition with stronger perishables--this was the case in many of their northern markets (Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, St Louis, etc.) and probably in SoCal, as well. In Houston, they acquired Henke & Pilot, whose local rep was strong enough that they kept the H&P name for a couple decades after the acquisition.
krogerclerk
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Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by krogerclerk »

The Atlanta and Columbus divisions are usually the most profitable Kroger KMA's(Kroger Marketing Areas), while Delta(Memphis) and Mid-Atlantic(Roanoke) are usually the poorest performers of Kroger bannered stores. Nashville division despite a near 50% share of the Nashville market was marginally profitable, leading to its being divided between Atlanta and Mid-South(Louisville) divisions. The Michigan(Detroit) division is also a poorer performer, which lead to the combining with Columbus to create the Great Lakes division, which has since been redivided back into Columbus and Michigan divisions. Likewise the Dallas and Houston divisions were combined to create the Southwest division to boost profitability in Texas. Dallas is a legacy of acquiring Wyatt's supermarkets and as Rich pointed out, Houston from the Henke&Pillot chains.

Kroger has a marginal presence in Alabama, Louisiana, and the Carolinas, but is generally performing well in the areas in which it is located in said states. The former Carolinas division, based out of Charlotte had a greater presence in North and South Carolina than the locations in South Carolina that are part of the Atlanta division and the Triangle locations are the last Kroger presence in North Carolina, under the operation of the Mid-Atlantic division.
ashley2771

Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by ashley2771 »

Kroger still has stores in Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, and Garden City, SC... and also Bluffton, SC near Hilton Head...
pseudo3d
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Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by pseudo3d »

Even though Kroger is an Ohio company, was Texas ever their most profitable state/region? How did they manage to overtake Weingarten's, Safeway, and Randalls in Houston? And does anyone know the history of their store in Denison (home of Eisenhower)? This looks like an oldie that may have started as another chain.
The Houston market is a stronghold because of the Henke & Pillot acquisition in the 1960s. Weingarten's was absorbed by Safeway in the 1980s, then Safeway pulled out and all the old Safeway stores became AppleTree, which collapsed soon after and was absorbed by Randalls, Fiesta, and Kroger (among others). Then Randalls was bought by Safeway and changed so much of what made Randalls popular, and then two years later H-E-B opened a full line store. Kroger, H-E-B, Fiesta hold most of the market today (besides Walmart).
pseudo3d
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Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by pseudo3d »

Kroger's Houston domination included picking up a number of old Albertsons when they pulled out in '02, but the same dominance isn't replicated elsewhere. A few Krogers are smattered outside the Houston area but beyond College Station-Bryan and Huntsville, that's it--nothing in S.A. anymore, nothing in Austin (I did spot an old Greenhouse in San Marcos, so they were there), nothing in Waco-Temple-Killeen. The only time when they reappear is in Dallas-Fort Worth, where even post-merger they'll still have more market share than anyone else (except Walmart)
KrogerTexas
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Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by KrogerTexas »

The San Marcos store was part of the San Antonio group along with New Braunfels. Both were Super Store II - about 30K size. They closed in 1992 with San Antonio. Austin and Waco closed earlier, along with the stores in the valley and Corpus. Kroger still has the outlying stores you mentioned - Bryan - College Station (which has had new construction in the past years) - Huntsville (slated to be replaced) - Conroe - Willis - Clute/Lake Jackson - Nacogdoches - Marshall - Longview - Palestine - Henderson (the last five being part of the old Dallas Division).
wnetmacman
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Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by wnetmacman »

KrogerTexas wrote:The San Marcos store was part of the San Antonio group along with New Braunfels. Both were Super Store II - about 30K size. They closed in 1992 with San Antonio. Austin and Waco closed earlier, along with the stores in the valley and Corpus. Kroger still has the outlying stores you mentioned - Bryan - College Station (which has had new construction in the past years) - Huntsville (slated to be replaced) - Conroe - Willis - Clute/Lake Jackson - Nacogdoches - Marshall - Longview - Palestine - Henderson (the last five being part of the old Dallas Division).
You also forgot Paris, which, along with Longview, Marshall and Nacogdiches were all Family Centers. Palestine is a small Greenhouse that was just remodeled (September 2014). Willis is a Marketplace, and a pretty nice store. Henderson is a special store; it's a former Safeway (built 1980) that has now been Kroger far longer than it was Safeway. It still has a fairly consistent Safeway layout, but with newer equipment and decor.
Scott Greer
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Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by KrogerTexas »

I also forgot Beaumont and Orange. Beaumont has two Signature Stores, one older greenhouse and one new construction (early 2000's), and Orange a old family center that has been remodeled.
pseudo3d
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Re: When/how did Kroger "conquer" the South?

Post by pseudo3d »

Willis replaced the store across the highway, which was an Albertsons.
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