Today, Cincinnati-based grocer Kroger held it’s Q3 2020 earnings call. The positive tone of the announcement was set by Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen.

“Our Kroger family of associates have been nothing short of incredible during the pandemic and they continue to inspire me every day. I am proud of our dedicated associates who continued to diligently execute our Restock Kroger transformation while serving our customers when they need us most.

We delivered strong results in the third quarter. Customers are at the center of everything we do and sales remain elevated as we continue to enhance our competitive moats – Fresh, Our (private) Brands, Data & Personalization, and Seamless. We are executing against our strategy even during the pandemic and continue to grow market share.

The strong underlying momentum in our core supermarket business and acceleration in the growth of our alternative profit business demonstrates we are successfully transforming our business model to deliver consistently strong and attractive total shareholder return in 2020 and beyond.”

Private Brand Highlights included:

  • The Kroger portfolio of private brands grew at 8.6% in the third quarter
  • Premium brand Private Selection grew over 17% rise
  • Private Brands launched the largest number of new items ever
  • Simple Truth grew nearly 15%
  • The launch of 50 new Simple Truth Plant Based items
  • Growth in Simple Truth fresh soups
  • Growth in its Home Chef meal kits including oven-ready entrees and sides

Total company sales were $29.7 billion in the third quarter, compared to $28.0 billion for the same period last year. Excluding fuel and dispositions, sales grew 11.3%.

Gross margin was 23.0% of sales for the third quarter. The FIFO gross margin rate, excluding fuel, decreased 2 basis points compared to the same period last year. This decrease was primarily driven by price investments and mix changes, offset by sourcing efficiencies, sales leverage and growth in alternative profit streams.