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Exploring H-E-B: Making Inroads in Mexico

H. E. Butt Grocery Company BB #:106490 entered Mexico in 1997 with a store near Monterrey, and now has more than 60 locations in the country, concentrated in the northeastern states of Nuevo León, Coahuila, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, and Guanajuato.

Its major competitors include Walmart de México y Centroamérica (Walmex) and Soriana.

“H-E-B’s strength with Hispanic customers [in the United States] offers a tremendous advantage, and the company’s presence in Mexico differentiates it from most of its competitors,” says Carol Spieckerman of Spieckerman Retail in Bentonville, AR.

Expansion into Mexico made sense given H-E-B’s brand recognition, with many northern Mexico shoppers already crossing the border to shop at H-E-B or H-E-B plus! stores in McAllen, Brownsville, and Laredo, TX.

The Mexican stores have a smaller footprint than U.S. locations, but feature a wide assortment of fresh produce and other products.

Most items are sourced from local Mexican companies, with the remainder of U.S. origin. The retailer built a large distribution center in 2004, implementing a new way of doing business in a market where grocery distribution is largely decentralized.

In keeping with its desire to maintain control over its business, H-E-B operates Supermercados Internacionales H-E-B, S.A. de C.V. (a.k.a. H-E-B Mexico) as a wholly owned subsidiary, rather than through a joint venture as is typical for other global retailers in Mexico.

This is a feature from the Texas Supplement to the March/April 2021 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the full supplement.