Kroger Co. KR, -0.11% say 70% of customers choose their grocery store based on the quality of the fresh produce, and there are four items that stand out: bananas, berries, tomatoes, and bagged salads. According to Stuart Aitken, Kroger’s chief merchant and marketing officer, these items account for 28% of the company’s agricultural product sales.
“When we provide even higher quality and freshness in these areas, we will earn even more customer loyalty and additional sales,” he said, according to a FactSet transcript. Aitken also said that chicken will be big, with chicken sales expected to reach $ 1 billion in the next two years. Aitken was one of the executives speaking at Kroger’s investor day event this week, which outlined the company’s growth plan in 2021 and beyond. Read: ‘Frugality Will Reign’: Eager to save hundreds of dollars, Americans flock to one type of product Kroger reiterated its full-year 2021 guidance for an identical 3% -5% adjusted sales decline and earnings per share of $ 2.75 to $ 2.95. The FactSet consensus is for an identical 4% decrease in sales and EPS of $ 2.80. The return to shareholders is expected to be 8% to 11% with net profit growth of 3% to 5% through a number of strategies, including increases in fresh food sales, sales acceleration digital, which the company says is now an engine for growth and broader competition. trenches, as continuous innovation in their private label Our Brands. Kroger says its brands are a $ 26 billion business with Simple Truth, which focuses on items in the frozen food, produce and dairy sections, and more, adding $ 3 billion in sales last year. Home Chef, which includes ready-to-cook and ready-to-heat meals, will be the next billion-dollar brand, the company says. A pilot coming soon will build on this business. Kroger says digital sales doubled in 2020 to more than $ 10 billion, and aims to double digital sales by 2023. For them, digital includes all the components that make the buying process perfect for the customer. . His partnership with Ocado will also expand. See: Online grocer Ocado dismisses Amazon as a ‘very small competitor’ ahead of Kroger’s first warehouse launch “By leading with fresh produce and accelerating with digital, we will increase our share of the portfolio by leading with fresh food,” Rodney McMullen, CEO of Kroger, said during the event. In 2020, Kroger said it had 1.3 billion customer interactions through digital channels. Total sales in 2020 grew by $ 14.4 billion. Total sales for the year were $ 132.5 billion. COVID-19 fueled a surge in online supermarkets, with competitor Albertsons Cos. Inc. ACI, -3.51% announcing Tuesday that it has partnered with Google GOOG, + 3.34% GOOGL, + 3.26% on a number of digital initiatives. “Kroger detailed their strategy and it is beautiful in its simplicity – fresh and digital,” wrote Bill Kirk of MKM Partners in a note. “Fresh foods are a differentiator in ways that traditional packaged foods are not, and Kroger’s digital audience is an asset that many retailers, particularly those that rely more on third-party platforms, cannot replicate.” Plus: ‘Plexiglass Will Be Active For A Time’ – Shoppers Still Eager For COVID, But Back To Stores Don’t Miss: More Red Beans And Less Cold Medication – How COVID-19 Rewrote America’s Shopping Lists AND MKM is confident in the steps the company is boosting its digital business. “We believe that the exclusive partnership with Ocado could be fruitful (especially in conjunction with Walgreens), increasing the reach and value of Kroger’s captive online marketplace,” the note read. “Where most retailers use third-party services for e-commerce options, Kroger has its own audience on Kroger.com that can be better monetized, personalized, and built.” Still, MKM maintained its neutral stock rating. MKM has an estimated fair value of $ 35 worth of Kroger stock. “[T]Traditional stores, which comprise the vast majority of consolidated profitability, are not yet enthusiastic, ”the note said. UBS analysts are also cautious, keeping their rating neutral and their price target of $ 35. “From here, Kroger now needs to demonstrate that it can achieve these goals. In the past, he has set ambitious goals just to come up short, like the plan he presented in 2017, which called for $ 400 million in incremental operating profit over three years. Ultimately, he needed to get away from this. “Even after laying out his plans, analysts wonder what impact vaccines and the end of the pandemic will have on the business. Note: These 3 Industries May Benefit More From 5G” Expected its growing alternative revenue streams and cost-saving initiatives will act as tailwinds in the coming year, but the big question remains to what extent sales will moderate in a more normalized environment. “JPMorgan has similar questions, particularly about the sales expectations of 2% to 4% growth, which Kroger executives discussed during the event. “There are strengths in new and digital, to be sure, but are they enough to steadily drive comps from 2% to 4%? We are not sure, ”the analysts said. “[W]What is so different about the new Kroger offering than in the past and relative to conventional competitors who also have strong offerings (eg Albertsons). We also don’t think Kroger’s strategic moats are all that different from big competitors, which have also gotten more sophisticated with digital engagement and targeted ads (although, to be fair, we don’t have full visibility here). “JPMorgan rates Kroger’s shares as neutral. Kroger shares have gained 13.8% over the past year, while the S&P 500 SPX Index, + 1.18%, has risen 59.1% over the period.