Despite Copps shutdown, industry leader predicts more competition in Madison grocery scene

The head of one of Wisconsin’s major retail trade groups said despite the announced shutdown of the Copps brand in the Madison area, he still envisions a continued heightening of competition in the area’s grocery market.

Roundy’s, the parent company of the Copps, Pick ‘n Save and Metro Market brands, announced Tuesday that it would permanently close its Whitney Way Copps store .

The company also announced that its Park Street Copps store would see a remodeling, joining other Copps locations in the Madison area in becoming a Pick ‘n Save, marking the end of the Copps banner in the Madison area.

Despite Copps shutdown, industry leader predicts more competition in Madison grocery scene

It’s one of many brands in what Brandon Scholz, CEO of the Wisconsin Grocers Association, calls a highly competitive market. Area mainstays like Metcalfe’s, Roundy’s, Woodman’s and Willy Street Co-Op are competing with newer brands that have come to Madison over the past decade like Hy-Vee and Festival Foods.

Despite the presence of these brands, plus national chains offering groceries like Walmart, Target, Aldi and Costco, Scholz said he doesn’t believe the Whitney Way Copps closure is a sign that Roundy’s is being squeezed out of the market.

“I wouldn’t call it saturated, I think that we have a pretty healthy market,” he said. “I don’t know that (the closure) was a surprise, I think that was one of the older Copps stores that had been around and within a couple of miles you’ll see several stores that are operating.”

Responding via email to News 3 Thursday, a Roundy’s spokesperson said the decision to close the Whitney Way Copps store was based on “financial results and the level of consumer demand.”

“After careful consideration of the long-term financial performance of the Whitney Way Copps store, our efforts did not bring about the results needed to meet our business goals and objectives,” James Hyland, Roundy’s vice president of corporate communications, said.

Scholz said Roundy’s, recently purchased by national grocery giant Kroger, is trying to add new experiences and freshen its image to attract shoppers. He said uniting Wisconsin stores under the Pick ‘n Save banner and renovating stores is the company’s way of doing that.

“When Kroger purchased Roundy’s, they made the decision that they wanted to just have the same banner in all their stores for advertising and for all other purposes,” Scholz said. “In trying to run their stores more efficiently, they decided, let’s just (put one) banner up.”

Scholz said with razor-thin margins and increased competition, grocery stores across the area are trying to lure shoppers from other stores in any way they can, leading to new products, an increased focus on prepared and specialty foods and, ultimately, better deals for customers.

Despite Copps shutdown, industry leader predicts more competition in Madison grocery scene

“People shop on price, they shop on quality and selection too,” he said. “You see a lot of new things in the store, you see a lot of private label (generic items).”

Scholz said traditional grocers are also facing competition from non-traditional retailers. He pointed to Menards’ recent forays into adding groceries and convenience stores like Kwik Trip adding more fresh produce, private label items and prepared foods alongside the basics.

“(Grocers) have lots of competition from everybody and their brother that wants to sell,” Scholz said.

Scholz said there’s even potential for additional new grocery entrants into the Madison market. He said it all depends on how much and where the metro area continues to grow.

“It’s just a function of when is the market ready for a new entry or when will somebody else build another store,” Scholz said.