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Sprouts adjusts produce specs, aims to be more farmers market-like

sprouts philly
The Philadelphia Sprouts Farmers Market is one of the largest in the company’s portfolio. CEO Jack Sinclair says stores going forward likely will have a smaller footprint. (Photo by Pamela Riemenschneider)

In the company’s latest quarterly earnings report, Sprouts Farmers Market BB #:168563 CEO Jack Sinclair said the company needs to double down on its roots in produce and be more like its namesake farmers market.

“If anything, we can recreate the farmers market better,” he said, during the company’s 2019 4th quarter earnings call, held February 20. “If we can just capture some of that growth in farmers markets, we’ll be pretty well placed.”

That requires experiential retailing, he said. The company plans to focus new store development on smaller box size in the next several years.

“It requires people to really want to be there, and that’s what our aspiration would be in terms of what we create in these small stores, and we’ve certainly got it in some of our stores today, that’s for sure.”

Sprouts is a concept that is more of a complementary retailer, Sinclair said, and going forward the business needs to focus on being a place that consumers find something they weren’t expecting, something new, something fresh.

“Our fresh produce operation is better than most and will stay better than most,” he said.

The company has shifted its produce strategy, too, by relaxing specifications.

“I think one of the things that I’ve been encouraged with as we’ve changed the structure of the produce team, in particular, is how you can be appropriate to specifications by both the geographies that people are operating within and the timing in terms of what’s available and what’s not available,” he said.

“In my view, specifications are part of the equation of getting really high-quality fresh produce in front of customers,” he said. “Sometimes, we get a little bit too focused on the exact size and shape and color as opposed to exactly how the customer would be interested in buying the product.”

The company is seeing progress by not being so tightly focused, he said.

“We’ve seen progress on that in different categories where we, if you like, let the specification loose at certain times in certain places,” he said. “That’s allowed us to put the right products in front of the right customer at the right time.

“And there will be a lot more of that going forward.”




Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.