Not only has Kroger (KR) withstood Walmart’s (WMT) emergence as the largest U.S. grocer in recent years, but the Cincinnati-based supermarket chain has in fact thrived, becoming the 2nd largest U.S. retailer.
The company has come a long way since 1883, when Barney Kroger invested his life savings and opened a grocery store at in downtown Cincinnati. Kroger is #17 on the Fortune 500, up from #20 last year, with nearly $110 billion in sales. The company has enjoyed several years of steady growth and won customers away from rivals like Whole Foods Market (WFM) with its big push into organic groceries and store remodels.
Kroger has stoked its growth with a range of mergers and acquisitions, buying chains like Roundy’s and Harris Teeter over the last few years to help it build its presence in new markets. The company is also one of the biggest pharmacy chains in the country and one of the largest operators of gas stations. New challenges loom as Walmart and Target (TGT) re-invent their grocery businesses and Whole Foods rolls out its lower-price chain, but Kroger continues to beat Wall Street expectations.
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