- Jewel-Osco this week appointed Paul Gossett as its new president, according to The Chicago Tribune. Gossett assumed the role after former president Doug Cygan passed away earlier this month following a brief illness.
- Gosset previously served as the president of Albertsons’ Shaw’s and Star Market chains in the northeast, where he headed 153 stores across a five-state region. Prior to that role, he worked as vice president of marketing and merchandising for Albertsons’ Southern division, and has held a variety of operational roles, including positions with Winn-Dixie and Nash Finch. The Jewel-Osco chain includes 187 stores, most of them based in the Chicago area.
- Albertsons will look to Gossett to retain Jewel’s leadership in the Chicago market, and to continue the store remodels and online grocery push overseen by Cygan. “I don’t look at myself as a replacement of Doug, but I hope to build on what he started,” Gossett told the Tribune.
Given Gossett’s more than 40 years of industry experience and deep roots with Albertsons — he first worked for the company in 1977 — it’s easy to see why the top brass tapped him to lead Jewel-Osco. His familiarity with Albertsons' operations should help him hit the ground running, but as the Tribune notes, he hasn’t overseen a market quite like Chicago before.
Like the Northeast, where Gossett was previously stationed, Chicago is saturated with grocery competitors. But unlike the five-state region Gosset formerly oversaw as the president of Shaw’s and Star Markets, Chicago is dominated by alternative formats. The traditional supermarket is a dying breed while the likes of Aldi, Whole Foods and Walmart have been on the upswing.
The city is also a hub for innovation, with home grocery delivery now offered by Whole Foods, Walmart and numerous others. Companies have pushed store updates and new, smaller formats that fit into population-dense neighborhoods and capitalize on the growing demand for quick trips. In May, Amazon announced it would build one of its cashier-less Go stores in the city.
Jewel-Osco, which remains Chicago’s grocery market share leader, hasn’t taken any of this lying down. Last year, it launched its own home delivery service to complement an existing partnership with Instacart. It’s an effort to control more of the branding and user experience and casts a wider net to attract new customers.
As Bob Miller, Albertsons CEO, told the Idaho Statesman last year, “We’re going to work hard on home delivery, even though Amazon is, too, and lots of other people. We think we can compete in that space, because somebody can order the complete variety from our store.”
Jewel has also remodeled many of its stores. It’s refreshed center store aisles with more natural and organic products, stocked more local items and accentuated fresh offerings and prepared foods. In 2016, the company introduced an upscale specialty store that includes multiple levels, in-store dining and a full-service bar in addition to a wide variety of groceries.
Even with these updates, Jewel-Osco still faces an uphill battle to win over customers and fend off hungry competitors. Under Gossett, it will continue to try and show that traditional supermarkets are relevant in today’s ever-changing grocery industry.