Dollar General Reveals Fresh Ambitions

Steve’s breakdown: “Fresh” means fresh everything. And we think that’ll mean advertising. BTW: It’s no surprise but these guys spend a lot on newspaper.

GOODLETTSVILLE, TN: The speculation is true: more fresh produce is in Dollar General’s future. In a recent call with the company’s investors, Dollar General Chief Executive Officer Todd Vasos confirmed that the retailer will be remodeling hundreds of its stores with a specific focus on fresh produce and other perishables.

“Based on the lessons learned from the conversions of our recently acquired Walmart Express locations to our Dollar General Plus format that include fresh meat and produce, we’re remodeling about 300 traditional stores to include 34 cooler doors, an increase of about 160% from the existing cooler footprint in these locations,” Vasos told the call’s listeners. “This allows for a much greater perishable assortment, which helps drive trips and basket size.”

Dollar General Produce Aisle

In the same call, Vasos shared that one-third of these locations will go through testing for an assortment of fresh produce. Focusing on stores that have fewer than 10 cooler doors, Vasos said Dollar general anticipates that its store base will have an average of 17 cooler doors, up from 10 in 2012.

This announcement coincided with a few other revelations for the company, namely Dollar General’s fourth quarter financial report, and the news that Chief Merchandising Officer James W. Thorpe will be retiring. Dollar General stated that it has started a search for a successor and will consider both internal and external candidates for the job.

Thorpe joined Dollar General in 2006, according to a press release, and served as its Senior Vice President and General Merchandise Manager until July 2012. Later in August 2015, Thorpe returned to Dollar General as Executive Vice President.

“Jim’s strong understanding of our core customer and passion for our business have been instrumental in driving innovation in our merchandising initiatives,” said Vasos. “When Jim rejoined the company in 2015, we agreed upon a clear set of objectives for his tenure as CMO. As I knew he would, Jim has delivered on the merchandising strategies we identified as our highest priorities. I’m grateful for his contributions and wish Jim and his family the best in the future.”

As the company announced its 4th quarter financial results, the following points were highlights of the full report:

    • Fourth quarter net sales increased 13.7%
    • Fourth quarter same-store sales increased 1.0%
    • Fourth quarter diluted EPS increased 15% to $1.49
    • Fiscal year net sales increased 7.9% to $22.0 billion
    • Fiscal year same-store sales increased 0.9%
    • Share repurchases for fiscal 2017 are expected to be approximately $450 million
    • Plans to open approximately 1,000 new stores and relocate or remodel 900 stores in fiscal 2017
    • Capital expenditures for fiscal 2017 are expected to be in the range of $650 to $700 million

As Dollar General embarks on its new fiscal year with a fresh produce expansion in its crosshairs, AndNowUKnow will keep a sharp eye on its progress.

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