By Randy Tucker
Enquirer staff writer
Kroger Co. saw its share of the Greater Cincinnati grocery market jump through the first half of the year as former rival Thriftway announced it was pulling out of the marketplace.
Many Thriftway customers apparently shifted their shopping to Kroger, which saw its market share rise from 44.6 percent to 53.9 percent from the beginning of the year through the end of June - a 21 percent jump, according to a mid-year report from industry market tracker Market Scope.
Mark Hugh Sam, a retail analyst at Morningstar Inc. in Chicago, said he's not surprised to see Kroger's market share jump in light of market conditions.
"This is just a continuation of what you see happening across the country," Hugh Sam said. "Consolidation has resulted in big stores getting bigger at the expense of smaller players."
Kroger's share figures are expected to grow even larger as a result of the Cincinnati-based supermarket giant's taking over more than a half-dozen stores abandoned by the struggling Thriftway chain.
So far this year, Kroger has acquired eight Thriftway stores from their Florida-based parent, Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., which announced in April that it would sell or shutter 21 stores in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky as part of a nationwide restructuring.
Winn-Dixie sold one of its Florence Thriftway stores to Erlanger-based Remke Markets in June, closed another store in Alexandria and is preparing to close the remaining 11 stores by the end of September, according to local store employees.
Winn-Dixie officials declined to comment.
Kroger reopened two of the former Thriftway stores - one in Goshen and another in Norwood - under the Kroger banner last month.
It is preparing to bring former Thriftway stores online in Amelia, Blue Ash, Monfort Heights, Mount Carmel, Harper's Pointe in Symmes Township and Florence.
Kroger officials declined Friday to comment on the latest market share figures.
Kroger, which has been the top grocer in Greater Cincinnati for at least the last 10 years, was the only one of the top five supermarket chains in the market to gain share, according to the Market Scope report.
No. 2 Meijer saw its market share decline from 14 percent to 12.6 percent through the first half of the year, while third-ranked bigg's fell from a 10.2 percent share to 8.4 percent.
Thriftway dropped from a 7.6 percent share to 6.2 percent to hold steady in fourth place, and even retail behemoth Wal-Mart Supercenters - the nation's largest food seller - saw its share figures in Greater Cincinnati decline, from 3.2 percent to 2.7 percent.
Status of remaining Thriftways
Thriftway store employees who refused to give their names said the following locations would be closed by late September:
3872 Paxton Ave. in Hyde Park Plaza
10180 Colerain Ave. in Bevis
5291 Delhi Road in Delhi Township
4605 Dixie Highway in Fairfield
2220 Waycross Road in Forest Park
1967 Dixie Highway in Fort Wright
1065 Reading Road in Mason
W. Sixth and York streets in Newport
1535 W. Galbraith Road in North College Hill
409 W. Kemper Road in Springdale
5150 Glencrossing in Westwood
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