I agree and it's only going to get better once Kroger straightens out Mariano's stores in Chicago. Mariano's has a couple of very under performing stores i.e. Buffalo Grove, Gurnee. Mariano's also has stores cannibalizing the same store sales of other Mariano's stores due to poor planning by the then parent company Roundys which was bought out by Kroger in late 2015 during a distress sale of the company. Mariano's also has some very poor store management teams especially at the senior store level i.e. Skokie. A revolving door of associates promotes a poor employee culture and due to the lack of consistency of keeping strong teams in place, increases shrink and lowers departmental sales due to poor customer service and equally important unnecessary high levels of shrink, especially in perishables. Once the wrinkles of Mariano's are resolved the KR share price of around $40+/-, will be in the rear view mirror.
Kroger has been and is continuing to click on all cylinders. Kroger just moved into the upper Midwest with the acquisition of Roundy's for peanuts $180M, due to a forced sale by then Chairman and CEO Bob Mariano or face bankruptcy after the disappointing 3Q 2015 earnings release and a high debt load carried on the Roundy's balance sheet. Mariano's stores in Chicago were to be the answer to save the company, however in many cases Mariano's had poor store management teams due to the very rapid expansion of the 34 Mariano's stores resulting in high losses due to shrink as the company couldn't keep the key employees necessary. Wisconsin predominantly the Pick N Saves had been dying for years due to the onslaught of Walmart and Meijer stores. Kroger will act aggressively to rid the cancers both in Wisconsin and Mariano's stores in Chicago. The acquisition of Roundy's will prove to be very lucrative for Kroger and a brilliant business decision by the company. Market volatility has moved many to the sidelines and a good time for investors to accumulate Kroger in their portfolios.
I wouldn't be surprised if Kroger closes at least two Mariano's stores in 2016. Mariano's stores (34) of them are in the Chicago metropolitan market and are part of Kroger's acquisition of Roundys. Under performing stores will not be tolerated in a very tough environment to capture the consumer's dollar. The bloated store management teams at Mariano's along with store management that was ineffective and responsible in keeping great talent, resulting in lower same store sales, was part of the story forcing the sale of Roundys/Mariano's to Kroger, and will be under the Kroger microscope. Lean and mean will win in twenty sixteen.