Kroger copying Ukrop's

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Ukrop's took a hit in the third quarter of this year posting a 1.4 million dollar profit loss. The news comes just as one of the Richmond based chain's biggest competitors makes a major move.

One of the first things people tell us they associate with Ukrop's is customer service. The bag boys carry your bags to your car. Well, just across the street, another grocer is now copying the Ukrop's trademark.

"I'm glad they have it and I don't have to worry about getting them out, and lifting them out of the cart. It's wonderful," said Richmond resident Helen Macklin.

The Cincinnati based chain is now taking groceries to the car at its Carytown store, which is directly across the street from a Ukrop's.

"That is an indication to me that Kroger may smell a little blood in the water," said David Urban, VCU Marketing Professor.

Urban says Kroger is getting aggressive in terms of going after Ukrop's head on. The Carytown store is also planning to expand its prepared food selection and wants to lease the CVS next door so it can knock out a wall and expand.

"They are clearly out to be a very strong player in this market," said Urban.

And it may be working. Velva Atkins normally shops at Ukrop's.

Velva Atkins: "But see now that Kroger is taking my groceries out. What can I say?"
Rachel DePompa: "Here you are at Kroger?"
Velva: "Ukrop's is still my store though!"

Last June Ukrop's lost its number one ranking for local grocery stores to Food Lion. And it started looking for a buyer over the summer, but so far, no deals have reportedly panned out.

Ukrop's may have posted a third quarter loss, but it's still in the black and it's about to enter the most profitable time of year. Which means to a possible buyer this chain is still very marketable.

"They're not going to look at it as a quarter by quarter situation. They're going to look at it over the long term. What would, in the big scheme of things, buying a chain like Ukrop's really do for some other organization," Urban said.

Neither Kroger nor Ukrop's officials returned our phone calls. Ukrop's has never publicly acknowledged a possible sale.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.