Why The Story of The Great A&P Matters Today

By Nicholas Inglis posted 02-28-2012 13:08


At the AIIM Conference 2012, I'll be discussing the lessons we can learn from a company whose prime had passed about 75 years ago. Why am I dredging up this company of yesteryear? Simply put, it is more relevant today than ever before.

A&P was once the largest company in the US and it made some of the most brilliant business moves ever seen, it's owners, brothers, the Hartfords, graced the cover of TIME magazine and were two of the best managers in history. Unfortunately, this story has a sad ending with the major decline of A&P into a regional supermarket chain just emerging from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

A&P capitalized on the first major shift in American consumer habits and brought itself from a small chain and mail order tea company to the most powerful retail supermarket chain. It then missed the second major shift in American consumer habits and has yet to recover from that major mistake.

I will be discussing this history in light of the social, local and mobile era that we are entering and draw parallels between our current day and the experiences of A&P.

In addition, I will be discussing what current trends will end up being the game changers that bring companies to newfound prominence and bring others to ruin. Building upon that, I will share the practical steps that can be taken to prepare for this pending upheaval.

I will rely greatly on statistics, research and the brilliant book, "The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America" by Marc Levinson, drawing a completely separate set of key takeaways as we look at this in today's context.

I look forward to seeing you on Day Two of the AIIM Conference 2012 at 1:30 for this engaging (and participatory, no spoilers) session.

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