Metcash has hired a former Woolworths and Coles senior executive, Peter Pokorny, to improve its fresh food offer as part of a five-year transformation plan.
The plan is aimed at securing the long-term future of the wholesaler and independent grocery retailers, the Australian Financial Review reports.
In the past five years, Metcash has invested more than $100 million buying fresh food businesses, mainly fruit and vegetable wholesalers, in an attempt to create a $1 billion fresh food pillar and boost fresh sales in independent supermarkets.
However, fresh food “penetration”, or the proportion of shoppers who buy fresh food, at IGA supermarkets remains well below that of the major supermarket chains.
Metcash chief executive Ian Morrice says improving Metcash’s fresh food offer to independents is a “critical priority”.
Morrice is expected to give an update on the fresh food strategy and other turnaround plans, including a price-matching program, when he releases Metcash’s full-year results.
Working with independent store owners, Metcash plans to improve formats and space allocated to fresh food, using Romeo’s Supa IGA in Sydney’s St Ives as a benchmark.
Metcash also plans to increase its fresh specialist field force by 50 per cent over the next three to five years.