Albertsons CEO Makes a Case for a Long-Term Shift in Food Spending

Vivek Sankaran discusses IPO, strategy and a dangerous but unique recession


By Jon Springer, Winsight Grocery Business

Jun. 28, 2020


Emergency efforts to mitigate effects of the COVID-19 virus helped to supercharge momentum at Albertsons Cos., but it’s what it may leave behind when the danger passes that has its CEO excited.


“Things will change, but if you step back and look at customers, you’ll see two or three behaviors that have now gone on for a couple of months,” Vivek Sankaran said in an interview with WGB. “They’re cooking more at home. They’re spending family time together. They’re grilling at home, they’re more baking cookies at home and baking bread at home. They are buying alcohol to consume at home instead of at a restaurant. And these are behaviors they are enjoying.


“While that might drop off, they are still working at home and they’re realizing, working from home isn’t so bad. You can get a lot done there. We did an IPO working from home. People are finding out this is possible,” he said. “We hope COVID goes out quickly and as it goes out, we surely expect people will go back to more eating out, but I suspect that instead of eating outside five times a week, it might be two or three times a week. And if you’re not going to [an office for] work as many times a week, you’ll be eating more breakfasts and lunches at home. So I don’t know the answer of when this all ends, but as I think about what is likely and what is less likely, and I think we’ll all be eating more at home.”


Sankaran’s remarks came moments after the markets closed June 26, marking the first day of public trading of Albertsons’ stock in nearly 15 years. He acknowledged the past few months have been hectic but also lucrative. The remarkable conditions for essential businesses may have helped to draw new attention to Albertsons, though Sankaran insists the company was courting investors with longer horizons. As it went, a market downturn last week contributed to a lower initial trading price than the company had sought and the stock dipped slightly on its first trading day.


“The markets do what they do,” Sankaran said. “Investors get in with you because they believe in your long-term story.”


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