Target Corp. executives expect grocery and fresh fruits and vegetables to be a big part of its future.

The chain’s leaders expressed optimism about the direction of the company’s grocery efforts during a Feb. 28 meeting with investors, and discussed its planned $7 billion 3-year investment.

“We’re very focused on improving our grocery performance, but we haven’t just been standing still,” says Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO. “We’ve made significant progress in procurement, in supply chain, in making sure we’ve improved our assortment, in making sure in those test stores in Los Angeles, in Dallas, we understand the changes that need to be made in the in-store experience.

“We’re going to follow it up immediately with the right investment in pricing, to make sure we’re competitively priced every day in those key categories,” Cornell says. “So we’ve got more work to do, we’re certainly not satisfied with where we are, but we have been making some progress and there are some bright spots.”

Mark Tritton, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, described fresh produce as one of those bright spots.

“Fresh produce is a really good example where we’ve changed our supply chain, our assortment and our focus on quality and value,” Tritton says, “so investing there has really made a difference that the guest has really perceived and responded to with great growth in key categories.

“We’ve invested in fresh, and we’ve gone from an organization that used to deliver (multiple) times a week to every single day, increasing that freshness and quality, and guests are responding,” Tritton says.

In Target’s $7 billion investment, it plans to upgrade about one-third of its 1,800 stores and open 100 small-format stores in urban areas and in college towns.

Additional reporting by The Packer’s Ashley Nickle

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