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Industry News

Supermarkets need physical stores, former Whole Foods CEO says

June 12, 2019

Brick-and-mortar stores remain an important part of any successful supermarket retailer’s expansion strategy, says former Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb.

But the retail industry is evolving, notes Robb, with Amazon.com, Target, Walmart and others continuing to combine their digital and physical spaces. And delivery services have expanded the typical physical store’s sphere of influence, he says.

“Integrated retailing is the future,” Robb told Yahoo Finance. “Which is to say the digital and the physical combined. Unless you’re willing to play in multiple channels, you’re going to have a hard time growing.”

Investment in grocery real estate totaled $9.9 billion last year, up by about 11 basis points from 2017, according to JLL. New supermarket openings were up by 30 percent, meanwhile, with some 17 million square feet of space added in the U.S.

“The real narrative is, there's winners and losers; those that are winning are growing, and you're seeing this expansion, by the way, in physical retail, of many different types of formats,” Robb said. “Hy-Vee Stores is doing one; 7-Eleven has six new concepts.”

By Brannon Boswell

Executive Editor/SCT

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