Kroger Plans $100 Million Overhaul of Stores

By Andy Meek

The footprint of the city’s dominant grocery store will undergo a facelift worth tens of millions of dollars over the next five years.

Kroger’s Memphis-based Delta Division, which operates 115 Kroger grocery stores and 70 fuel centers in five states, is pumping $100 million into its portfolio.

The company will spend $50 million in 2013 then another $50 million over the next three to five years on upgrades, fixes, renovations and even some store replacements in the Memphis area.

The latest example of that planned investment is Kroger’s newly announced plan to invest $2 million in the Kroger store at 1366 Poplar Ave., at the corner of Poplar and Cleveland Street.

The renovations there, which will happen in the first quarter of 2014, will include an expanded pharmacy, new paint inside the store, lowering the ceiling over the produce section, new interior décor, the installation of new refrigeration and frozen cases and a resetting of products on the shelves to improve the store’s variety and selection.

Joe Bell, manager of marketing and public affairs for Kroger Delta Division, said the Cleveland fixes are part of Kroger’s larger plan for its properties in the city. Management at the Poplar-Cleveland store, he said, took time to assess the store’s needs and listened to local neighborhood leaders about their desires for the store.

“With the traffic we have in our stores, we want to make sure we have the best facilities possible,” Bell said.

Beyond the Poplar-Cleveland location, the company recently opened a new store at Poplar Avenue and Highland Street and announced plans to expand its Lakeland store as well as build a brand new Union Avenue store.

Kroger Delta Division in the fall bought the Belvedere Apartments in Midtown for $2.6 million. It then purchased the Kroger store on Union Avenue that it was leasing from Art Seessel’s family, as well as two adjacent parcels for a combined $4.6 million.

Bell said Kroger hopes to demolish the Belvedere apartments in August.

Kroger’s 81,500-square-foot store in the Poplar Plaza shopping center opened several weeks ago. It’s Kroger’s biggest store in Memphis, and it includes extensive bulk nutrition, Boars Head, organics, locally grown products, as well as fresh seafood and a complete deli and bakery.

Kroger kicked off construction on its own building last year to reconfigure the layout of several tenants within the 360,000-square-foot Poplar Plaza center.

Kroger also purchased a former Schnucks store on U.S. 64 in Lakeland, which it’s remodeling and expanding. And Kroger recently broke ground on a store in Southaven.

“We’re doing a lot around Memphis,” Bell said.

Kroger employs more than 339,000 associates in 2,425 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states. The company also operates 788 convenience stores, 342 fine jewelry stores, 1,124 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S.