Clothes Call for Kroger?

The Kroger Co. is test-marketing a line of clothing added to its lineup of grocery essentials at a newly remodeled Marketplace store slated to open Friday in Mansfield, Ohio.

“In order to stay competitive, we have to listen to our customers and change to keep up with demand,” Jackie Siekmann, Kroger’s Columbus, Ohio-area spokeswoman, told The Cincinnati Inquirer. “We understand that we are experts in grocery, and we’re not going to lose sight of our core values.”

Kroger appears to be applying strategy and products from its West Coast-based Fred Meyer chain, a grocery and general merchandise retailer the Cincinnati-based grocer acquired in 1999.

“We took some of their top-selling products, but we know what works best out west may not be true here,” Siekmann told The Inquirer. “That's why we're testing the concepts in one store first, so we can tweak the product lines as needed.”

The new apparel section includes nationally branded shoes, jewelry, outerwear and undergarments from brands including Levi, Carhartt, Carter, Skechers, Hanes and Maidenform.

Should the test prove successful, it could help Kroger regain market share lost to retailers like Walmart and Target, which have been increasing their fresh food and grocery selections.

“We know this concept can be successful,” Siekmann said. “We’ve seen it work in other markets.”

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