During a 12-month expedition that’s spawned dramatic ripples across the mighty supermarket seas, this year’s annual Super 50 ranking of the nation’s leading food retailers is punctuated by a swift undercurrent of mergers, acquisitions, spinoffs and wider expansion nets that are collectively redefining the ecosystem.
For this year’s annual countdown of the nation’s leading food retailers, we chose to frame our analysis within a nautical theme in a nod to the ebb and flow of the times and consumer preferences.
Like the ripples in a pond, major shifts at the source trigger currents that are ultimately felt all the way downstream. M&A activity among the larger players can be a cold splash in the face for smaller operators that must decide how to react. Far-reaching ripples can also serve to make the entire ecosystem stronger, by forcing cohorts to shore up core competencies and gird against vulnerabilities to maintain and grow market share. It can also sound the alarm for stragglers, which are required to tread water amid bigger fish in a much smaller pond.
Our Super 50 analysis breaks down select players into five “oceans,” each consisting of common characteristics akin to each — some of which swim in more than one sea:
- At the Helm: Larger legacy retailers that have weathered many a storm over the years, with strategic growth, innovation and a commitment to the customer experience.
- Rising Tide: Owning a strong presence in their various market areas, these grocers, through a savvy mix of tried-and-true approaches, are well grounded and willing to take risks with new concepts to forge ahead.
- Beyond the Mainstream: Grocers owning the natural and organic category, or swallowing an ever larger portion of it, through persistent stewardship and faithful execution.
- Changing Course: These retailers have redefined themselves, or are in the process of endeavoring to do so, as a way of better navigating the changing demands of a dynamic marketplace.
- Steady as They Go: Regional players with true staying power, dedicated to their core customers and local communities.
In a titanic struggle for market share in an increasingly predatory arena, a rising tide may not necessarily be enough to lift all boats. But our Super 50 contenders each play an integral role in the tempestuous sink-or-swim supermarket ecosphere.
Progressive Grocer's May 2016 issue is available here.