Save A Lot has a “rapid growth expansion plan” for the next few years, Mark Kotcher, the company’s senior vice president of field sales and marketing, said during a Tuesday session at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show conference in New York City.
The discount grocer, which currently has nearly 800 stores across 32 states, sees room to bring its store count to 3,000, Kotcher said.
“We exist to serve the underserved. ... There is just so much need out there,” Kotcher said, noting that Save A Lot helps fill the grocery void in food deserts.
Kotcher said that Save A Lot is getting inspiration from Europe, which has a much higher penetration of the discount grocery model.
McKinsey and Company research published last year found that grocery discounters gained 1.4% in market share in Europe compared to 2021 mainly due to aggressive footprint growth, recovery from the pandemic-related sales dip, high inflation and heightened price sensitivity by consumers. That market share growth came at the expense of all other grocery channels, the report noted.
Save A Lot’s plan to expand its store count comes shortly after the grocery discounter finished transferring ownership of all of its stores to independent licensees as part of its switch from a retailer to a wholesaler. In August, Save A Lot unloaded its last corporate-operated stores with the sale of 18 St. Louis-area locations to Leevers Supermarkets.
“We’re a wholesaler with a program and a brand,” Kotcher said, noting that the licensee model allows for a hyper-local focus that improves store operations.
That model conversion ties into a multi-year effort by Save A Lot to strengthen its operations and better serve customers. Kotcher said the company’s three-year store remodeling process made the locations “night and day different” and led to a roughly 6% to 7% sales lift.
Started in 1977 and headquartered in the greater St. Louis area, Save A Lot focuses on value and a limited assortment, using efficiency to drive prices down, Kotcher said.
“We love limited assortment. Every decision is just so darn important,” Kotcher said, noting that figuring out which products not to offer is just as important as deciding which ones to sell.
Kotcher added that Save A Lot is working with technology partner Movista on a retail owner-operator pilot that will involve creating a feedback loop between its stores and support center and rolling out more worker-focused technology.