Supermarket giant Kroger announced plans this week to hire about 11,000 workers even as it faces heated competition from Walmart and Amazon.com. It's the latest wave of hires for Kroger, which has created 22,000 positions in the past two years. Kroger operates more than 2,700 groceries in 35 states under a variety of names, including Smith's, Fred Meyer, Ralphs and King Soopers. In addition to hiring additional workers, Kroger also announced a union-backed deal that will lead to pay hikes in several cities. To cover the wage increases, as well as training and development, Kroger is committing $500 million.
Total Retail's Take: The grocery category is primed for increased competition, spurred by Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods last summer. With Amazon entering the market, traditional grocers are seeking ways to fortify their businesses. For example, more grocers are offering customers home delivery of online orders, as well as meal kits for purchase in-store or online. By hiring new workers and paying them more, in theory Kroger should be cultivating a happier staff, which in turn should lead to better customer service, which begets repeat visits, and the virtuous cycle continues again and again. Kroger is making an investment in its stores — recognizing the vast majority of grocery purchases are still made in-store — to fend off its digital-centric competitors.