Netgrocer to Stay Course

NEW YORK — Netgrocer.com says it plans to stay the course despite the demise of Webvan, which on Monday announced it was filing for Chapter 11 as a prelude to shuttering its nationwide online grocery service. “We are not going to fold. We have an aggressive five-year plan and solid financial backing,” Netgrocer.com president Lisa Kent told Brandweek.

Unlike Webvan, which at one point had committed to building a multi-billion dollar system of warehouses located from coast to coast, Netgrocer has one major facility and ships only non-perishable goods nationwide via FedEx. It also recently entered into an agreement with online competitor Peapod under which Internet consumers who are not within Peapod’s local delivery service can order merchandise through Netgrocer. This, plus major backing from Italy’s Parmalat SpA, has the e-grocer looking to build its brand even as online supermarkets fall by the wayside and consumer perceptions about them turn ugly.

“We won’t be doing a multi-million dollar mass media ad campaign. But we do have strategic marketing campaigns that already have proven effective for us,” said Kent. Yet, she said the Brunswick, N.J.-based company would not be opposed to forming a brick-and-click alliance similar to those between Royal Ahold/Peapod and Safeway-Tesco/Groceryworks.com. “If a supermarket chain wants to invest $75 million, we certainly would listen.”