Harps Food Stores Pursues Continued Expansion

by George Waldon  on Monday, May. 21, 2012 12:00 am  

Harp's Food Stores President Kim Eskew, left, and CEO Roger Collins stand in front of a store in Springdale. (Photo by Brooke McNeely Galligan)

Harps Food Stores Inc. of Springdale has deployed a mixed strategy of growth through acquisition and construction since the financial markets imploded in 2008.

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But the emphasis of late has shifted to developing its own stores, especially its prototypical 32,000-SF model that includes gasoline sales and sizable space commitments to pharmacy merchandise and deli-bakery goods.

"We believe we will have a double-digit growth rate in sales," said Roger Collins, chairman and CEO. "We hope to put in five new stores every year. We believe we can do that.

"The stores we're putting in are doing a greater volume than our average store. The new format we're using has just been real successful."

Revenue reached $550 million in 2011, a one-year increase of 6.4 percent.

Employment at the company has grown by nearly 50 percent, from 2,245 in 2001 to about 3,350 today.

With six stores opening this year, sales and employment should post healthy gains heading into 2013.

"We have several other places we're looking at," Collins said. "We think this is a good time to expand."

He said the company launched the expansion program after years of enduring market share erosion, chiefly from Wal-Mart's efforts.

"From 1992 to the early 2000s, Wal-Mart went to town to grow its grocery business," Collins said. "We were just sitting back taking these hits when they would open a new store, a Supercenter or Neighborhood Market. We couldn't continue to do that, and we needed to keep growing."

Operating in expansion mode has created advancement opportunities for staffers and helped boost the value of the company's internal stock.



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