Meijer’s Reason for Being
By George Anderson
Hank Meijer, cochairman and chief executive officer of Meijer Inc., says there is a fundamental difference between his company and archrival, Wal-Mart.
“Food for them,” he told Tom Walsh of the Detroit Free Press, “is a tool to get people into the general merchandise part of their store and increase the frequency of visits.”
“For us” he said, “food is our reason for being.”
That difference, Mr. Meijer believes, is demonstrated by the vast selection of food the chain offers in comparison to Wal-Mart’s Supercenters.
A great selection of food, however, can only go so far when your core markets include states such as Michigan that saw its unemployment claims jump even while the national market was boasting an increase of 377,000 jobs last week.
“We won’t be ever the lowest in price,” Mr. Meijer acknowledged, helping to explain why Wal-Mart has 14 of its Supercenters operating in the state where Meijer was founded and makes its headquarters.
Meijer has sought to hold back Wal-Mart’s encroachment and stay price competitive by reducing its workforce, improving supply chain operations and remodeling stores.
Still, Mr. Meijer will be the first to acknowledge, Wal-Mart is not going away.
Moderator’s Comment: What has Meijer done to compete with Wal-Mart? What will it need to do if it wishes to grow?
While there is no bigger competitor in the world, Hank Meijer does believe his company has some advantages going head-to-head with Wal-Mart. For one, Meijer
is a private company. “No stock price to worry about, no dividends to pay,” he told the Free Press. –
George Anderson – Moderator