Supermarket operator Kroger ends joint venture with Dunnhumby, starts customer data subsidiary

Supermarket operator Kroger said Monday that it ended a 12-year joint venture with British consumer data company Dunnhumby and started its own customer data subsidiary.

Like the joint venture, the new subsidiary will help Kroger set prices in stores and decide which shoppers get certain coupons.

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Kroger said it bought some assets from the joint venture, DunnhumbyUSA, but did not disclose financial details of the deal. The ending of the joint venture comes after Dunnhumby's parent company, British retailer Tesco PLC, said it was seeking strategic options for Dunnhumby.

The new subsidiary, called 84.51, will be based in a new building in downtown Cincinnati. About 500 employees of the U.S. joint venture will work for 84.51. The remaining employees, about 200, will stay with Dunnhumby. The companies do not expect to lay off any employees.

84.51 uses information gathered from Kroger's loyalty cards to send coupons to frequent shoppers and help it decide which products to sell in stores. It will also provide data to companies that sell products at Kroger's stores.

By ending the joint venture, Kroger will be allowed to work with other customer data companies and Dunnhumby will be able to grow its North America business by working with Kroger's competitors. The two companies will continue to work together.

Kroger Co., headquartered in Cincinnati, operates over 2,000 supermarkets under several names, including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less and Ralphs. The company's stock fell $1.09 to $70.61 in afternoon trading Monday.