- Albertsons is proceeding at a measured pace with the strategic review it announced earlier this year and has not yet determined when the evaluation will be complete, President and Chief Financial Officer Sharon McCollam said Thursday during Bernstein’s Strategic Decisions Conference. “We will continue to look at all opportunities and have discussions as you would expect us to be having at this point. My guess is that we're still a period away, and we're not in a hurry,” McCollam said.
- The retailer is working through a time-consuming appraisal process to place a value on its extensive real estate holdings in connection with the review, McCollam said. The property was worth about $11 billion in 2019 and has likely increased in value since then, she said.
- Albertsons has been considering options for its future as the grocer looks to increase productivity and strengthen its ties with shoppers against a backdrop of strong inflation.
While McCollam declined to provide additional details about the company’s review process, she used her appearance at the Bernstein conference to highlight steps Albertsons is taking to strengthen its business as it strives to enhance its value.
McCollam emphasized that Albertsons is working to take advantage of its focus on fresh products to maintain momentum with shoppers as people continue to depend more heavily on grocery stores for food than they did before the pandemic. The chain intends to place a heavy priority on prepared foods that closely reflect tastes in the regions where its stores are located, she said, noting that Albertsons continues to have an on-site butcher in most of its stores and dedicated staff time to activities like cutting fruit and making guacamole.
In addition, McCollam said Albertsons is looking to expand the assortment of fresh foods, including prepared meals, that carry its own brands as it works to meet its goal of increasing its private label penetration to about 30%, up from the 25.6% level it recorded in its latest quarter.
McCollam stressed that increasing productivity remains a top priority for Albertsons, adding that the company recognizes that its workforce faces challenges and is heavily focused on finding ways to make their jobs easier.
“[G]oing to work in a grocery store, in a deli … there are immense numbers of pain points. And over the years, they grow and the people find ways to work around them, and technology and other capabilities can solve so much of that,” McCollam said. “I would call that a crusade.”
Albertsons is also confident it will be able to strengthen ties with digital shoppers and recognizes that it faces tough competition as it looks to build its e-commerce operations, said McCollam, a former Best Buy executive credited with helping that retailer change course as consumers migrated online.
McCollam emphasized Albertsons has been concentrating on drawing shoppers through services like FreshPass, the subscription-based delivery program Albertsons rolled out last summer. The company is also looking to reduce the time it takes to load groceries into pick-up customers’ vehicles from the current average of about three minutes, McCollam said.