Kroger reverses course on facelift as Target and Walmart keep winning

Shares of Kroger are falling, while its competitors are on the rise

Grocery store chain Kroger is reversing course on its attempt to stay competitive by dipping into apparel, meal kits and more, so now the company is getting back to what it's always done best: selling groceries.

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Shares of Kroger are down nearly 40 percent since their highest point in 2015, while shares of general retailers like Walmart and Target have seen upward trends as they eat up more of the grocery market.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
KRKROGER27.72+0.23+0.84%
TGTTARGET CORP.126.76+1.73+1.38%
WMTWALMART INC.119.65-0.13-0.11%

Kroger will slow down its plans to renovate stores — only about 20 percent underwent remodels under its "Restock Kroger" plan, The Wall Street Journal reported. The decision will keep more stores in operation after Kroger laid off hundreds of employees in October.

That means many customers will get to keep the experience they're used to. Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., is figuring out its place among online delivery services like Amazon Fresh, high-end grocery stores like Wegmans and discounters like Lidl.

Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen at the supermarket company's headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Lisa Baertlein

Things already seem to be looking up for Kroger since September. Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told analysts last month that the company was not "reconfirming" its three-year projection of $400 million in incremental operating profit tied to "Restock Kroger."

The profit warning sent shares tumbling even as Kroger reported quarterly profit that topped Wall Street's expectations.

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But earlier in November, Kroger released a more optimistic forecast for 2020 profit and comparable sales, sending shares up 10 percent.

"Restock Kroger" was announced in 2017 as a three-year, $9 billion plan to redefine the customer experience through its digital and technology units, including a focus on its e-commerce platform.

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Some of Kroger's out-of-the-box attempts to modernize include teaming up with Alibaba to sell groceries in China and buying Home Chef, the largest private meal kit company in the U.S.

The chain has been around for 136 years.

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FOX Business' inquiry to Kroger was not returned at the time of publication.

FOX Business' Thomas Barrabi and Matthew Kazin contributed to this report.