By Alisha Haridasani
One of the country's largest supermarket chains is investing in technology and talent to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive grocery business that has been upended by e-commerce.
The grocery chain Kroger is seeking to “create shareholder value over the next three years,” said Jessica Adelman, the retailer’s Chief Communications Officer. The plan, called "Restock Kroger," includes initiatives to improve the grocery shopping experience online and offline.
“We know people want to shop for anything, anytime, anywhere,” said Adelman in an interview Monday with Cheddar's CEO Jon Steinberg.
Earlier this year, Kroger expanded its ‘Scan, Bag, Go’ pilot program across more stores, allowing users to scan their grocery items on their phone as they shop and pay at a self-service checkout. Kroger also started carrying the increasingly popular meal kits to cater to time-pressed customers who still want freshly cooked meals.
The company also announced this month that it would aim to hire 11,000 employees by the end of this year, including 2,000 in management roles.
“A lot of the jobs that we’re adding are in the technology space, in the areas that are complementary to helping us achieve ‘Restock Kroger,’” said Adelman. “We’re taking labor out of areas of the store where people don’t seem to miss it that much and we can help move our associates up the ladder into more meaningful work.”
In a bid to attract and retain top talent, Kroger will provide a new education benefit for full and part-time associates who will $3,500 a year for new training, capped at $21,000 total. Adelman said the plan will be paid for in part with savings from the new tax plan passed by Congress.
Though the company’s fourth quarter earnings were in line with expectations, competition from Amazon and Walmart continues to weigh down Kroger’s stock. The company’s shares were down more than 13 percent since a year ago.
Last week, Kroger completed the $2.15 billion sale of its convenience stores to the EG Group in Britain and will use those proceeds to buy back shares.
For full interview, click here.