The oldest grocer west of the Mississippi, Ralphs Grocery Company runs about 255 Ralphs supermarkets in Southern California, where it's one of the top food retailers, along with Safeway-owned Vons and Stater Bros. About a dozen stores in upscale neighborhoods fly the Ralphs Fresh Fare banner. The company also runs some 115 warehouse-style stores under the Food 4 Less and Foods Co. banners in California. Ralphs closed about 20 stores in Southern and Central California in 2005, citing poor performance, and in 2006 began closing or selling stores in Northern California, including the last of its stores in the Sacramento area. Founded in 1873, Ralphs became a division of Kroger, the US's #1 grocery chain, in 1999.
Ralphs welcomed a new leader in mid-2011. Donna Giordano, formerly president of Kroger's Quality Food Centers chain, succeeded Mike Donnelly, who joined parent Kroger as its SVP of merchandising. Giordano has been with Kroger since 1972, starting at its King Soopers chain.
Ralphs stores average about 12,500 sq. ft. and generally offer seafood, deli, and bakery departments, and many have pharmacies. Emulating a trend in the grocery industry sparked by Wal-Mart, in 2008 Ralphs began offering its pharmacy customers generic drugs for $4 per prescription at its stores in Southern California. Taking another page from Wal-Mart's play book, Ralphs began touting lower prices at all of its stores in Southern California in June 2008.
Ralphs has a growing line of private-label products, including Private Selection (premium), First Choice (club sizes), and International Classic Breads.