Strack & Van Til Chief Executive Officer Jeff Strack

Jeff Strack, Strack & Van Til chief executive officer

The supermarket sector has been enduring the worst deflation since the 1960s, which is part of the reason Strack & Van Til is closing five stores.

"Controlled inflation should do our sector a lot of good," Chief Executive Officer Jeff Strack said. "We're repositioning in the coming months, retrenching and focusing on the core part of our business. We're eliminating anything that's pulling us down financially."

The grocery sector remains highly competitive.

"The grocery sector across the country, not just Strack & Van Til and Ultra Foods, is fighting for market share, which is a strain on profitability," Strack said. 

Like other retailers, conventional supermarkets also face online competitors. A recent study found online grocers now have 10 percent of the grocery business, and it's rapidly growing, Strack said.

"Online operators are making inroads into market share," he said."We're forced to reinvent our business model, which is what we're doing with Instacart, where customers can order their groceries online, pull up and have them delivered to their cars. We're trying to make customers lives easier with the use of technology."

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.