Winn-Dixie ‘taps’ new way to attract shoppers

Anthony Hucker

Retailers are embracing new concepts and formats to differentiate and increase in-store traffic. Winn-Dixie hopes its latest in-store innovation will show customers that grocery shopping can, in fact, be fun.

The grocery chain, owned by Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeastern Grocers, recently renovated a store in Jacksonville to feature a Taproom, with black subway tiles and four televisions hung on the wall side by side. The Taproom is designed to look like a sports bar and offers eight brews on tap at $2 per pint, including several local craft brews. The Taproom also offers 12 wines, coffee and fountain drinks, and combo meals as well as to-go growlers.

Store Brands had a chance to sit down with Southeastern Grocers CEO Anthony Hucker at the Taproom in Jacksonville, Fla., where he said the company’s latest concept was created to bring some excitement to grocery shopping and to attract more shoppers.

“Our Taproom concept helps take the chore out of grocery shopping,” Hucker said. “With our competitive pricing, our positive in-store shopping experiences, as well as our community outreach programs to give back to our immediate community, we believe it sets us apart from our competitors. If the concept proves successful, we are more than willing to expand [it] to other banners within our company.”

After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018 in an effort to restructure its debt, Southeastern Grocers has remodeled 115 stores within its various banners, Bi-Lo, Harveys Supermarket and Fresco y Más, and closed nearly 100 stores. According to Hucker, the company has focused primarily on offering competitive pricing and positive shopping experiences.

The company has also focused on harnessing innovative retailing ideas from consumers and associates. Hucker says some of the company’s most successful business ideas come from its front-line associates.

In addition to employee and consumer feedback, Southeastern Grocers’ other source for innovation is its test kitchen, located at its headquarters. Specifically, the test kitchen serves as the company’s proving ground for new private label products that are meant to compete with national brands. 

“We're trying to match the national brand and make it better and our test kitchen is the best way to do that. Our corporate concept chefs develop and perfect our own brands products and recipes to match with national brand products,” Hucker said. “Our store brands are some of our most important means of differentiating ourselves.”

Hucker believes the company’s 8,200 private brand products are among the top in the industry, with its SE Grocers Essential and SE Grocers Prestige lines receiving awards for their private brand products in 2018, one year after development in 2017.

The SE Grocers Essentials line consists of everyday value products for those seeking reliable, budget-friendly household basics. The SE Grocers line consists of products developed with quality as good as or better than that of established national brands, but at lower prices. And the SE Grocers Prestige line is a premium-tier brand offering a selection of specialty and indulgent products at affordable prices.