The Kroger Co. stock certificate 1986
Cool grocery piece with a vignette of a classical female figure in front of farm and food on a conveyor representing their distribution. Issued and not cancelled. Dated 1986.
The Kroger Company is an American retailer founded by Bernard Kroger in 1883 in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the country's second largest supermarket chain by revenue, second-largest general retailer (behind Walmart), and twenty-third largest company. As of February 2013, Kroger operates, either directly or through its subsidiaries, 2,625 stores. Kroger's headquarters are in downtown Cincinnati. It maintains markets in 31 states, with store formats that include supermarkets, superstores, department stores, convenience stores, and mall jewelry stores.
In 1883 Bernard 'Barney' Kroger invested his life savings of $372 (roughly equal to $9,400 as of 2014) to open a grocery store in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Cincinnati. Kroger, the son of a merchant, had a simple dictum:Be particular. Never sell anything you would not want yourself. Kroger tried many ways to satisfy customers. He experimented with making his own products, such as bread, so that customers would not need to go to a separate bakery. In 1929 there were rumors of a Safeway-Kroger merger.
Beginning in 1955 Kroger began acquiring supermarket chains again, expanding into new markets. In three months it purchased three supermarket chains. On May 13, Kroger entered the Houston, Texas market by acquiring the Houston-based 26-store chain Henke & Pillot. In June of that same year Kroger acquired 18-store Krambo Food Stores, Inc. of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, which at that time had started building six more stores. In late July it purchased Childs Food Stores, Inc. of Jacksonville, Texas. Childs also had a presence in Arkansas and Louisiana.
In January 1956, the company bought out Big Chain Stores, Inc., a chain of seven stores based in Shreveport, Louisiana, later combining it with the Childs group. All of these chains adopted the Kroger banner in 1966. In October 1963 Kroger acquired the 56-store chain Market Basket, providing them with a foothold in the lucrative southern California market. (Prior to this time Kroger had no stores west of Kansas.)
Kroger opened stores in Florida under the SupeRx and Florida Choice banners from the 1960s until 1986, when the chain decided to exit the state and sold all of its stores; Kash n' Karry bought the largest share. Recently, retail analysts have begun to speculate about whether Kroger may capitalize on the misfortunes of Albertsons and Food Lion and re-enter Florida.
Kroger entered the Charlotte market in 1977 and expanded rapidly throughout the 1980s when it bought some stores from BI-LO. However, most stores were in less desirable neighborhoods and did not fit in with Kroger's upscale image. Less than three months after BI-LO pulled out, that company decided to re-enter the Charlotte market, and in 1988 Kroger announced it would leave the Charlotte market and put its stores up for sale.
Kroger entered the competitive San Antonio, Texas market in 1980 but pulled out in mid-1993. On June 15, 1993, the company announced it would close its 15 area stores 60 days later. The chain closed several stores around Flint, Michigan in 1981, which were converted by local businessman Al Kessel to a new chain called Kessel Food Markets. Kroger bought most of these stores back in 1999 and began reverting them.
In 1982, Kroger sold the 65-store Market Basket chain it had operated for several years in southern California. The stores were reverted to the Boys Markets branding, after acquiring the chain. Boys Markets was acquired by the Yucaipa Companies in 1989. When Yucaipa acquired Ralphs, the Boys brand disappeared.
In 1983, The Kroger Company acquired Dillon Companies grocery chain in Kansas along with its subsidiaries, King Soopers, City Market, Fry's, Gerbes, and the convenience store chain Kwik Shop. David Dillon, a fourth-generation descendant of J.S. Dillon, the founder of Dillon Companies, became the CEO of Kroger. In northeastern Ohio, Kroger had a plant in Solon, Ohio, which is a suburb of Cleveland, until the mid-1980s. When that plant shut down, Kroger closed its northeastern Ohio stores in the Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown areas. Some of those former Kroger stores were taken over by stores like Acme Fresh Markets, Giant Eagle and Heinens.
Kroger opened and had about 50 stores in St. Louis until it left the market in 1986, saying that its stores were unprofitable. Most of its stores were bought by National, Schnucks, and Shop 'n Save. Safeway (excluding the Randalls chain) exited the Houston market in early 1988. It sold many of its own properties to Kroger, the market leader in the region, which is still followed by Randalls (now owned by Safeway) today.
In the 1990s, Kroger acquired Great Scott (Detroit), Pay Less Food Markets, Owen's Market, JayC Food Stores, and Hilander Foods. In 1997, Kroger merged with the then fifth-largest grocery company Fred Meyer, along with its subsidiaries, Ralphs, QFC, and Smith's. In the late 1990s, it acquired many stores from Super Fresh as it exited many markets in the South. Kroger still maintains a North Carolina presence in the Raleigh-Durham area. In the Raleigh-Durham area, Kroger closed its North Raleigh store in the Wakefield Commons shopping center on July 9, 2011 because the location failed to meet sales expectations. After the closure, Kroger will operate 16 stores in the Triangle. Kroger had a store in Greenville from the 1980s until 2010 when it sold it to Harris Teeter.
Long the dominant grocer in western Virginia, Kroger entered the Richmond, Virginia market in 2000, where it competes against market leaders Martin's and Food Lion. Kroger entered the market by purchasing Hannaford stores that either already existed or were being built in Richmond. Hannaford purchases also included the competitive Hampton Roads market, where it now competes with Farm Fresh, Harris Teeter, and Food Lion. The Hannaford locations in these markets were purchased from Delhaize by Kroger as a condition of Delhaize's 2000 acquisition of the Hannaford chain, which had previously competed against Food Lion, also owned by Delhaize. Wal-Mart Supercenters are also major competitors in both markets, and the chain briefly competed against Winn-Dixie, which has now exited Virginia.
In 2001, Kroger acquired Baker's Supermarkets from Fleming Companies, Inc. Albertsons exited the San Antonio and Houston markets in early 2002, selling many of the Houston stores to Kroger. In 2004, Kroger bought most of the old Thriftway stores in Cincinnati, Ohio, when Winn-Dixie left the area. These stores were reopened as Kroger stores. In 2007, Kroger acquired Scott's Food & Pharmacy from SuperValu Inc.
On July 9, 2013, Kroger announced its acquisition of the 212 stores of Charlotte-based Harris Teeter in a deal valued at $2.5 billion and assumed $100 million in the company's outstanding debt. Harris-Teeter's stores are in eight Southern states, with a major portion of them in its headquarters state of North Carolina. Doing so, Kroger acquired Harris Teeter’s click and collect program which allows online ordering of groceries. Some industry experts see this as a competitive move against online grocers such as AmazonFresh.
On March 3, 2015, Kroger announced it will enter Hawaii, having registered with the state as a new business in February 2015. The move had been in the planning stages, as it was planning to expand there in 2006 but withdrew after it had already submitted registration. Kroger, who is in the process of looking for locations to open its first store (and have yet to whether to use another name for its store branding), will face competition from Honolulu-based rivals Foodland and Times, major retailers Safeway, Wal-Mart, and Costco, Japanese-owned Don Quixote, and Department of Defense-owned DeCA Commissaries. On March 5, 2015, Kroger announced it will be acquiring the 7 store Hillers Market chain in Southeast Michigan, and will operate all but one of those stores under the Kroger banner.