Abasto interviewed Eric Stover, president of Heritage Grocers Group (HGG), a leading ethnic food retailer specialty grocers.
The HGG group of stores operates in six states: California, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Kansas, and Illinois.
Stover joined Cardenas Markets in 2020, where his last position was Chief Executive Officer or CEO.
Related Article: Heritage Grocers Group Promotes Stover as President and Coswatte as COO
Abasto: Why did you choose to get into the supermarket industry?
Eric Stover: I didn’t choose to get into the supermarket industry insomuch as it chose to keep me. When I was 16, my first ‘real job’ choices in my neighborhood were the local grocery store or fast food. I wisely picked the grocery store! I continued working there and then a subsequent family chain for the next 15 years through school and beyond. The fast pace, upward mobility, honest work, and the good fortune of working with some amazing leaders and mentors just kept me in the industry for my entire career.
A: What new ideas in the industry excite you?
ES: Highly personalized and immersive shopping experiences enhanced by technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to create seamless and optimized product interactions.
A: What are some of the boons and banes of this industry?
ES: The retail grocery industry helps to fulfill one of the most basic needs of every person, which is food. A person must eat to survive and thrive, so the question becomes how can we offer a compelling place to come and shop? Price, assortment, atmosphere, and location all come into play.
The next challenge for the grocery industry is continually working to merge a customer’s need for just the basics with the want of items not on their shopping list, such as new products and flavors.
An ongoing challenge is the evolution of customer trends, with manufacturers and retailers both needing to pivot quickly to capture sales and market share of the next seltzer, plant-based protein, on-trend diet food, or other similar “flash in the pans.”
More about Eric Stover
- EXPERIENCE: Wild Oats, Henry’s Farmers Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, United Natural Foods (UNFI) and KeHE Distributors
- KEY MEMBER: Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC), Cardenas Markets Foundation and Food Industry Roundtable Olive Crest
- EDUCATION: University of Texas at Arlington