Kroger to add an additional market, focus on urban-format stores

Kroger (NYSE:KR) is planning to expand into one new market by the end of the year and will continue to open new stores to fill in existing markets. J. Michael Schlotman, Kroger CFO, shared the news at an investor conference Wednesday in New York, reports Supermarket News.

"We are going down the path of picking one new market to enter organically," Schlotman told the UBS Global Consumer Conference. "We've been engaged in that process since October, and we've essentially [decided] where we're going to go, though it will be awhile before we go public."

Kroger also may be looking at purchasing stores that may be divested in the coming months. Schlotman did not directly pinpoint which stores, but it could be an indication that Kroger is interested in making a bid for stores as a result of the recent acquisition of Safeway (NYSE: SWY) by Albertson's.

"We've been happy picking up assets [when stores] become available in markets where we currently operate, and those have been very beneficial for us," Schlotman said.

Kroger is currently focused on managing its newly-acquired Harris Teeter unit, which it purchased for roughly $2.5 billion in July. Kroger operates more than 2,400 grocery stores in 31 states, while Harris Teeter has 216 stores in eight states.

The Harris Teeter stores are typically much smaller than Kroger locations and are located in more densely populated areas than a typical Kroger. Scholtman remarked that operating the Harris Teeter unit has helped the company "learn a lot" about urban-format stores.

For more:
-See this Supermarket News article

Related stories:
Safeway sold for $9 billion, will merge with Albertsons
Safeway stock rallies on buyout rumors; debt concerns rise
Investors happy about Safeway shedding Dominick's
Safeway Canada sells out to Sobey's for $5.7 billion
Whole Foods confirms plan to buy 7 former Dominick's stores in Chicago

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