PG’s Top 25 Stories of 2016: 10-1

As we bid adieu to 2016, Progressive Grocer takes a look at the most popular stories on our website during 2016 through the end of November. As the final installment of a three-part series, the top 10 story countdown below is presented in inverted order, beginning with 10 and continuing to the most widely clicked story of 2016.

10. Publix Promotes 4

Closely following the announcement of longtime CEO Ed Crenshaw’s retirement and the appointment of President Todd Jones to succeed him, the news of four further high-level promotions at Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets was PG’s 10th most-read story of 2016. David Phillips became EVP and CFO; Kevin Murphy took on the newly created position of SVP of retail operations; Bob Bechtel succeeded Murphy as Miami division VP; and Sam Pero became Lakeland division VP.

9. Kroger Poised to Acquire The Fresh Market

Having just acquired Roundy’s for $800 million, The Kroger Co. looked set to add The Fresh Market to its portfolio, and, although both companies declined comment, industry speculation remained high, fed by reports of Cincinnati-based Kroger’s participation in the second stage of The Fresh Market’s auction process, making this story the ninth most popular on PG’s website in 2016. Adding fuel to the fire was The Fresh Market’s recent corporate shakeup that saw the departure of COO Sean Crane and the hiring of veteran retail executive Pamela Kohn as chief merchandising officer, as well as CEO Rick Anicetti’s plans to “reinvent” the Greensboro, N.C.-based specialty grocer’s underperforming center store sections.. In the end, The Fresh Market was acquired by New York-based private-equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC for $1.36 billion in cash, and has since concentrated on revamping stores in its core markets.

8. Walmart Closing 269 Stores

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s mid-January announcement to close 269 stores and warehouse clubs worldwide – including 102 of its small-format Walmart Express locations, which had been in pilot since 2011 – in conjunction with a major overhaul of its nearly 11,600 stores worldwide, nabbed the 19th slot on PG’s 2016 news leaderboard. While the affected stores represent less than 1 percent of the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer's global square footage and revenue, the news was a concrete acknowledgment of the difficulties that the once-unstoppable retailer has faced in recent years.

7. Kroger, Lucky's Market Ink Strategic Partnership

Not content with its recent purchases of Harris Teeter and Roundy’s, The Kroger Co. forged a “strategic partnership” with Boulder, Colo.-based specialty grocer Lucky’s Market, news that became PG’s seventh most-read story in 2016. The hybrid deal, terms of which weren’t disclosed, was expected to significantly accelerate the growth of the 17-store Lucky’s banner in new and existing markets.

6. Kroger Outlines Focus, Strategy to Stockholders

Kroger was much in the news in 2016, as evidenced in part by Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen’s annual letter to shareholders outlining the Cincinnati-based grocery giant’s long-term focus and strategy, and landing in sixth place in the ranking of PG’s most popular news stories of the year. The high points of McMullen’s missive included execution of Kroger’s Customer 1st strategy, 12 consecutive years of same-store sales growth, growing the core business, moving beyond the core with new services and strategic partnerships, innovation across all levels of the business, and continued attention to philanthropy and sustainability.

5. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon Discusses Store Closures

In the wake of Walmart’s closure of 269 stores, including 102 small-format Walmart Express locations, CEO Doug McMillon went on the Bentonville, Ark.-based mega-retailer’s blog to explain the move as an effective way to manage the company’s portfolio by closing the stores that should be closed, with the goals of “winning with our proven store formats … deepening our digital relationships with customers and enhancing critical capabilities through technology and data, a next-generation supply chain and talent.” Intense industry interest in Walmart’s next steps catapulted McMillon’s pep talk to No. 5 on the list of PG’s most-read stories of 2016.

4. House Passes ‘Common Sense’ Labeling Act

In fourth place among PG’s top news stories of 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 earned cheers from industry trade groups for its softening of the FDA’s restaurant menu-labeling regulations as they apply to supermarkets. FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin noted that “the bill injects some common sense into the rule by avoiding a one-size-fits-all system and allowing supermarkets to provide this important information to their customers in ways that are most accessible and useful to the customers for whom it is intended.”

3. Associated Wholesale Grocers, Affiliated Foods Midwest to Merge

Registering as PG’s third most-read news item of 2016. this merger, unanimously approved by both companies’ boards of directors, resulted in operations covering a majority of the United States, excluding the Northeast and West Coast, and also allowed the combined entity to benefit not only from additional scale and buying power, but also from implementation of best practices developed in the 80-plus years that both cooperatives have been in existence.

2. Merging Ahold, Delhaize Could Sell 83 Stores

Ahead of their historic merger, which finally took place last July, reports circulated that Ahold and Delhaize Group would need to shed as many as 83 U.S. stores under various banners that could present an overlap issue for the Federal Trade Commission, news that took second place in the lineup of most popular PG news stories in 2016. In the event, the companies divested themselves of 86 locations to various buyers, with Sunbury, Pa.-based Weis Markets picking up the lion’s share in acquiring 38 former Food Lion stores.

1. 4 Trends for Grocery Marketers in 2016

Top of the 2016 news story leaderboard for PG was this forward-looking piece by Collective Bias President and CEO Bill Sussman about what marketers could expect in the new year, including – no surprise – how to keep up with the evolving attitudes of that most coveted demographic: Millennials.

Read part 1 and part 2 of 2016’s news story hit parade.


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