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Kroger and Murray’s Cheese Announce Merger

The Kroger Co. has purchased the equity of Murray’s Cheese, as well as its flagship location on Bleecker Street in New York City, to form a merger of the two companies.

“For cheese lovers and connoisseurs, it doesn’t get more authentic than Murray’s,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and CEO. “Our customers are excited to buy the unique offerings of Murray’s Cheese right in our stores, and we’re excited to ensure this iconic cheese shop will remain a part of the Kroger family for many years to come.”

New York’s most iconic cheese shop, opened in 1940, Murray’s has been delivering the finest selection of cheese, meat and specialty food items to New Yorkers, chefs and cheese lovers nationwide through a robust online business. Since the two companies formed a unique partnership in 2008, Murray’s has offered the same fine foods and cheese expertise to the Kroger family of stores.

“When the Kroger and Murray’s relationship started in 2008, we wanted to figure out how to bring the finest cheese and charcuterie to more people,” said Daniel Hammer, Kroger’s Vice President of Culinary Development and Deli/Bakery Merchandising. “Today, we have more than 350 Murray’s Cheese shops in Kroger locations from coast to coast – and that is thanks to the incredible passion and commitment of the team at Murray’s to empower associates to share their love of cheese with customers. We look forward to learning from the very talented team at Murray’s and working together to grow the business and build the iconic Murray’s brand.”

Murray’s former Owner and President, Rob Kaufelt, will remain affiliated with the business as a strategic adviser. Nick Tranchina will continue to lead the Murray’s Cheese team in New York and will report to Daniel Hammer at Kroger.

“Rob’s dedication to his craft has placed Murray’s on the map among the culinary elite while also making specialty cheese more accessible to mainstream consumers,” said McMullen. “We look forward to Rob’s continued influence on the business, helping to tell the Murray’s Cheese story and building its brand.”

“It has been my honor and privilege to work with so many tremendous, talented people over the course of my 45-year career in food retail, especially the last 25 years at Murray’s here in New York City,” said Kaufelt. “When I set out on this journey, my goal was simply to run the best cheese shop in Greenwich Village. I’m proud that we’ve been able to maintain the spirit and service of a mom-and-pop neighborhood shop amidst our growth into the national market. I am pleased to pass the torch to our able staff, who will carry Murray’s into the future.”

Murray’s Cheese shops in Kroger stores replicate the same experience customers enjoy at its Greenwich Village flagship store. Each shop carries hundreds of cheeses, charcuterie, olives, crackers and specialty food items from all over the world. Murray’s is deeply involved with product selection, staff training and development, merchandising and promotions.

Other highlights of the special partnership between Murray’s Cheese and Kroger include:

  • In December 2016, Kroger and Murray’s Cheese opened their 350th store location in Bloomington, Indiana. At the time, Kaufelt said, “This is an exciting milestone for Murray’s and the specialty cheese industry. In 2008, we pioneered a store-within-a-store concept at a handful of Kroger stores. Between 2008 and 2012, we opened 38 stores, and in 2016 we opened nearly 100. This partnership has exceeded our wildest expectations.”
  • Murray’s staff has trained thousands of Cheese Mongers and Certified Cheese Professionals through its relationship with Kroger. Between the two companies, the American Cheese Society named as Certified Cheese Professionals 29 team members in 2016, 20 in 2015, and 13 in 2014.

Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed.

ALDI Unveils $1.6 Billion Nationwide Store Remodel Plan

With more people shopping its grocery stores than ever before, ALDI is making an aggressive $1.6 billion investment in its stores, with an extensive plan to remodel and expand more than 1,300 U.S. stores by 2020.

The new ALDI store look strengthens the stores’ periphery with a focus on fresh items, including more robust produce, dairy and bakery sections. Remodeled stores will also feature a modern design, open ceilings, natural lighting and environmentally friendly building materials – such as recycled materials, energy-saving refrigeration and LED lighting.

“With this significant investment in our stores, what we’re really doing is continuing to invest in ALDI customers,” said Jason Hart, CEO, ALDI. “We’re continuing to expand our fresh offerings, which means we need to provide more space for produce, meat, and bakery items. We’ve also made a number of improvements to our products – such as removing added MSG, certified synthetic colors and partially hydrogenated oils from all of our ALDI exclusive brand foods. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that our customers still save money on the groceries they buy the most.”

More shoppers than ever are making ALDI their grocery destination. Today, ALDI serves more than 40 million customers each month, which is a nearly 60 percent increase since 2013. Customer feedback shows they’re thrilled about the enhancements ALDI has made to its premium-quality products and the additions to its everyday lineup.

“ALDI customers know we stand out from our competitors for a reason: we offer high-quality, affordable food that they can feel good about serving their families,” added Hart. “Our unmatched combination of exceptional quality and everyday low prices is why we’re one of the fastest growing retailers in the U.S., currently operating in 35 states.”

ALDI offers customers the very best of their weekly must-haves, such as fresh produce, organic foods, fresh dairy and bakery items, gluten-free foods, USDA Choice beef and household products, while saving them up to 50 percent on their grocery bill. Its simple approach to retailing means ALDI customers only pay for freshness and quality without the hidden costs that other grocery retailers are known for. This approach, coupled with the ALDI-exclusive brands that comprise 90 percent of the products, allows customers to save money on premium-quality groceries.

Whole Foods Market Selects dunnhumby to Help Lead Merchandise Strategy

dunnhumby has announced that Whole Foods Market, Inc. has selected the company to provide customer data and insights to help evolve Whole Foods Market’s category management and merchandising.

dunnhumby is working with Whole Foods Market to apply its customer data models to make store-level merchandising decisions based on specific customer needs. Data-driven, customer-led insights will enable Whole Foods Market to create the shopping experiences customers want. As product choices and preferences change and vary by location, the dunnhumby data will provide customers with the most relevant shopping experience, according to the company.

“dunnhumby has the ability to understand customers and turn that into action,” said Don Clark, Global Vice President of Purchasing for Non-Perishables at Whole Foods Market. “This partnership allows us to keep innovating our shopping experience for the customer in a way that’s most relevant to them and reflects how they want to shop in each local community.”

“Whole Foods Market is renowned for delighting customers with extraordinary shopping experiences and customer service, which makes them an ideal partner,” said Andrew Hill, Managing Director North America at dunnhumby. “We’re thrilled to be working with a retailer as respected and innovative as Whole Foods Market, helping them continue to improve shopping experiences for their loyal and passionate customers.

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