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5 Questions For Richard Wardwell

Richard Wardwell

by Jim Dudlicek / NGA Director, Communications and External Affairs

The president of California-based Superior Grocers shares his thoughts on the current state of the industry and what the future holds for independent grocers.

  1. The pandemic, a widespread labor shortage, supply chain issues, high fuel prices and conflict in eastern Europe have created a perfect storm that’s driving inflation. What can be done to ease the pain on grocery operators as well as their customers?

Continue to look to technology to ease the pain of labor shortages and cost increases. Now, more than ever, we are looking to automated checkout, in addition to self-checkout. In addition, with the cost of goods going up as fast as they have over the last two years, we are relying on computer-generated ordering to reduce waste and unnecessary inventory in the stores thus helping us keeping shrink to a manageable level.

  1. What are your expectations for the coming months?

Our expectations for the coming months are an ease on increases in the cost of goods, some stability back into the supply chain and an uptick in people coming back into the workforce. We are preparing for new store openings, and staffing and equipment is top of mind.

  1. Though infection rates continue to fluctuate, the pandemic seems to be over in the minds of many. How will the experience of the pandemic continue to influence your operations?

The pandemic has changed the way we do business. We continue to sanitize and use best practices learned from the pandemic. We are maintaining social distance protocols and have developed a work-from-home program that we will continue to use for the unforeseeable future.

  1. What one thing must independent operators do to ensure growth and success?

Listen to your employees. Ask a ton of questions about what they are hearing and seeing in the stores and use the team’s energy to develop new ways of business.

  1. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

Spend time outdoors hiking.

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Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
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