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The Charlotte Observer has a long piece about the future of Delhaize-owned Food Lion, noting that new CEO Beth Newlands Campbell has to provide "clean stores, fresh produce, helpful associates and consistency from store to store," but also has as her primary goal finding ways to differentiate the company from fierce and ubiquitous competitors that include the likes of Whole Foods, Publix, Harris Teeter, Walmart and Aldi.

“There’s an imperative to set us apart,” Newlands Campbell says. “You can’t be middle of the road ... Am I a change agent? Absolutely."

You can read the whole piece here.
KC's View:
I do think that Beth Newlands Campbell has her hands full. The challenge for Food Lion is the same one that faces a lot of mature businesses. The company long had a specific, defined business advantage - low prices - that has been eroded over time because of competition on the low end, while it efforts to diversify through its more upscale Bloom banner did not work out as planned. (I always liked the Bloom stores, but the recession seemed to be too much for the banner to weather.) Now, Newlands Campbell - a tough and accomplished executive - has to figure out how to recapture the magic, finding a long term differential advantage while shoring up short term sales and profits. Not easy to do.

I do think it can be done, if Food Lion is ambitious enough and Newlands Campbell is given the room to shape a nimble and experimental culture that chases innovation. It won't be easy. It won't happen quickly. But I think that it can happen. (Analysts suggest in the story that Food Lion has been improving as the economy has rebounded.)

Newlands Campbell, who I like a lot, simply has to get a sign made that hangs not just in her office, but in every store: Audentes fortuna iuvat.

Or, if she prefers, the English translation: Fortune favors the bold.