- written, complied and edited by Kimberly Koerber-Bauer-Koerber
Kroger has been around for a long time. The following story is compliments of http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/history2/42/The-Kroger-Company.html
"History of The Kroger Company
The Kroger Company is the leading grocery retailer in the United States. It operates more than 1,300 supermarkets in 24 states across the country, primarily in the Midwest, South, Southeast, and Southwest. More than 1,050 of these are under the Kroger name, with the remainder operating under such names as Dillon Stores, King Soopers, and Fry's through its Dillon Companies, Inc. subsidiary. More than 93 percent of the company's sales come from its grocery operations, with most of the remainder coming from the more than 800 convenience stores Dillon operates under various names in 15 states. Kroger also operates 37 food processing facilities that produce dairy products, bakery goods, deli items, and other grocery products.
The Kroger Company traces its roots back to 1883, when Bernard H. Kroger began the Great Western Tea Company, one of the first chain store operations in America. Kroger left school to go to work at age 13 when his father lost the family dry goods store in the panic of 1873. At 16, he sold coffee and tea door-to-door. At 20, he managed a Cincinnati grocery store, and at 24, he became the sole owner of the Great Western Tea Company, which by the summer of 1885 had four stores. Kroger's shrewd buying during the panic of 1893 raised the number to 17, and by 1902, with 40 stores and a factory in Cincinnati, Kroger incorporated and changed the company's name to The Kroger Grocery and Baking Company.
Kroger Company historians characterize B. H. Kroger as somewhat of a "crank," fanatically insistent upon quality and service. Profanity was called his second language; he often advised his managers to "run the price down as far as you can go so the other fellow won't slice your throat."
Part of Kroger's success came from the elimination of middlemen between the store and the customer. In 1901, Kroger's company became the first to bake its own bread for its stores, and in 1904, Kroger bought Nagel Meat Markets and Packing House and made Kroger grocery stores the first to include meat departments.
This important innovation, however, was not easy. It was common practice at that time for butchers to short weigh and take sample cuts home with them, practices that did not coincide with B. H. Kroger's strict accounting policies. When Kroger installed cash registers in the meat departments, every one of them inexplicably broke. When Kroger hired female cashiers, the butchers opened all the windows to "freeze out" the women and then let loose with such obscene language that the women quit in a matter of days. When Kroger hired young men instead as cashiers, the butchers threatened them with physical force. But Kroger was stubborn, and in the long run his money-saving, efficient procedures won out.
From the beginning, Kroger was interested in both manufacturing and retail. His mother's homemade sauerkraut and pickles sold well to the German immigrants in Cincinnati. And in the back of his store, Kroger himself experimented to invent a "French brand" of coffee, which is still sold in Kroger stores.
The Kroger Grocery and Baking Company soon began to expand outside of Cincinnati; by 1920, the chain had stores in Hamilton, Dayton, and Columbus, Ohio. In 1912, Kroger made his first long-distance expansion, buying 25 stores in St. Louis, Missouri. At a time when most chains only hired trucks as needed, Kroger bought a fleet of them, enabling him to move the company into Detroit; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Springfield and Toledo, Ohio."
When America entered World War I in 1917, B. H. Kroger served on the president's national war food board and on the governor of Ohio's food board. His dynamic plain speech raised substantial amounts of money for the Red Cross and Liberty Bonds.
After the war, The Kroger Grocery and Baking Company continued to expand, following Kroger's preference for buying smaller, financially unsteady chains in areas adjacent to established Kroger territories. In 1928, one year before the stock market crashed, Kroger sold his shares in the company for more than $28 million. One of his executives, William Albers, became president. In 1929, Kroger had 5,575 stores, the most there have ever been in the chain.
Since the turn of the century, chain stores had been accused of driving small merchants out of business by using unfair business practices and radically changing the commerce of communities. In the 1920s, an anti-chain store movement began to gain momentum. Politicians, radio announcers, and newspapers talked about "the chain store menace." People feared the rapid growth of chains and their consequent power over their industries. Because the grocery industry was so much a part of most people's lives, food chains such as Kroger bore the brunt of public complaints.
Chain store company executives soon realized they would have to organize in order to prevent anti-chain legislation. In 1927, the National Chain Stores Association was founded and William Albers was elected president.
When Albers resigned as president of Kroger in 1930, he also resigned as president of the organization. Albert H. Morrill, an attorney who had served as Kroger's general counsel, was elected president of both in his stead. Morrill faced not only the economic challenges of the Great Depression, but also the political challenges of the growing public distrust of chain stores.
With the limited transportation and communication systems of the time, the company had to decentralize in order to grow. Morrill established 23 branches with a manager for each branch, and hired a real estate manager to close unprofitable stores. He also implemented policies that guarded against anti-chain accusations, while encouraging customers to shop at Kroger stores.
Instead of going through the usual channels for buying produce, The Kroger Grocery and Baking Company began to send its buyers to produce farms so they could inspect crops to ensure the quality of the food their stores sold. This counteracted the frequent complaint that chain stores sold low-quality foods. This policy eventually resulted in the formation of Wesco Food Company, the Kroger Company's own produce procurement organization.
Morrill also began the Kroger Food Foundation in 1930, making it the first grocery company to test food scientifically in order to monitor the quality of products. The foundation also established the Homemakers Reference Committee, a group of 750 homemakers who tested food samples in their own homes.
In 1930, one of the company's southern managers, Michael Cullen, proposed a revolutionary plan to his superiors: a bigger self-service grocery store that would make a profit by selling large quantities of food at low prices that competitors could not beat. But at this stage, Kroger executives were wary of the idea, and Cullen went on alone to begin the first supermarket, King Kullen, in Queens, New York.
Throughout the Depression, Kroger maintained its business; by 1935, Kroger had 50 supermarkets of its own. During the 1930s, frozen foods and shopping carts were introduced, and the Kroger Food Foundation invented a way of processing beef without chemicals so that it remained tender, calling the process "Tenderay" beef.
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