On Friday, Texas grocery giant H-E-B announced plans to open its first two stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Maria Halkias, retail reporter for The Dallas Morning News, told Texas Standard that North Texans have been waiting years for H-E-B-branded stores after the company announced it would bring Central Market stores to the region in 1999. Central Market is an upscale grocer that competes with Whole Foods, while H-E-B-branded stores serve a broader market. The first North Texas Central Market opened in Fort Worth 20 years ago.
“That’s the most-asked grocery question I get from readers is ‘When is H-E-B gonna open?”” Halkias said.
North Texans have many grocery choices, Halkias says. They include Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons and Tom Thumb. But people still pine for H-E-B, the Texas-based chain that has won passionate fans around the state.
“H-E-B is the largest supermarket chain in Texas,” Halkias said. “When they came here with Central Market is when they started going after Houston with H-E-B. And the reason people are worried here, who are in the grocery business, is that H-E-B climbed over everyone who was there.”
H-E-B’s advantages include it’s large volume of products and its reputation among people who encounter the chain while living in parts of Texas outside the DFW metroplex.
“They learn about H-E-B, and then they end up in Dallas and they look for an H-E-B and don’t see one,” she said.
H-E-B had earned praise before the pandemic for its online grocery pickup and delivery offerings. The company acquired the Austin-based delivery service Favor, intending to expand those services.
“And then, when the pandemic hit, they really gained a lot of confidence that they could do both good stores and online well,” Halkias said. “And they also saw some openings [in the DFW area.]