Safeway Looks to Less Contentious Future
By George Anderson
Safeway’s management heads into the company’s May 25 annual shareholders’ meeting with a greater sense of calm, if not downright optimism, than it has had in recent years.
The company has settled many of its contentious labor issues, the notable exception of Chicago remaining, completed store remodels and launched its $100 million “Ingredients for Life” advertising campaign to let consumers in key markets know about the new Safeway.
Safeway spokesman Brian Dowling told the East Bay Business Times, “We have made solid progress on several important fronts. There are strong indications our strategies are working.”
The company has been pleased with the consumer response to its new Lifestyle format stores that have taken a more upscale approach with interior design and product offerings.
Safeway posted a 12 percent increase in total sales for its first quarter compared to the same period last year.
Neil Stern, partner in McMillan-Doolittle, said, “The first quarter was definitely a good one, but it’s a bit too early to declare victory. We will see how (Safeway’s) strategy plays out and how they fare in their more difficult markets, like Chicago and Texas. And though Wal-Mart may not be in all of their markets any time soon, it is not going away, either.”
Moderator’s Comment: What is your analysis of the current state of Safeway? What challenges and opportunities do you see for the company’s immediate
George Anderson – Moderator