“This is a lateral move for Kroger. Harris Teeter is in a declining mode,” he said. “I don’t think there will be a whole lot of changes. The changes will be minor and subtle. Kroger is smart. They can keep the status quo going for Harris Teeter.”
In a call to investors, Schlotman mentioned Harris Teeter’s “Click and Collect” Internet application as a possible model for the entire company. The program allows shoppers to purchase groceries online and pick them up at a store.
Harris Teeter’s fresh produce program is another area Schlotman said Kroger plans to study. In a conference call to investors, Schlotman spoke positively about Harris Teeter’s reputation for fresh produce and their margin scale.Because of the scale of The Kroger Co., integrating Harris Teeter’s private labels into Kroger’s established private label business could be a way to save costs. Kroger also employs technology, such as high-end databases for loyalty cards, that Harris Teeter could now use.
The deal must be approved by shareholders and regulators before closing. There is no official timetable for the closing date, although Schlotman speculated that the deal would close at the end of the third quarter or in the fourth quarter of this year.
Shoppers have greeted the news with mixed reactions.
“No one around here offers customer service like Harris Teeter,” said Michele Murray, a frequent contributor to the Daily Press Savvy Shopper Facebook page. “If Kroger manages to leave the policies alone, this won’t be that big of a deal.”Others wonder how the changes will affect prices.
“I love Harris Teeter, but my budget prefers Kroger,” Elisabeth Wilkins said in response to a Daily Press Facebook post.
Coupon lovers, in particular, are wary of changes in the grocery store scene.
“Best case is maybe Harris Teeter gets some lower pricing,” said Ashley Dethlefs-Shanks, of Newport News. “Anything else I’m wary of because since Kroger ‘revamped’ for lower pricing in their stores, I haven’t been impressed. I love Harris Teeter. They just cannot be beat in terms of customer service and coupon sales.”
Find more retail news at dailypress.com/shopping. Connect at Facebook.com/SavvyShopper.
By the numbers
7 total stores in Hampton Roads
1 store on the Peninsula
2,419 stores in 31 states
$96 billion in revenue in 2012
5 percent market share in Hampton Roads