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Retailers

1-on-1 With Pat Raybould, President of B&R Stores

WGB's December 2018 Endcap guest blasts swipe fees
Patrick Raybould
Illustration by Olivier Balez

Pat Raybould is president of Lincoln, Neb.-based B&R Stores Inc., which includes 20 stores under the Russ’s Market, Super Saver and Apple Market banner in Nebraska and Iowa.

Welcome to Endcap, Pat! You’ve guided your company through its 53 years of existence to become the largest Nebraska-based supermarket chain, with about 20 stores and 2,000 employee-owners. What is significant about B&R’s evolution?

Pat Raybould: It all started with Russ, my dad, being a progressive retailer reading trade magazines, going to trade shows and keeping his eye on the competition. He was always a student of the business and not afraid to take risks and be bold. His leadership inspired our people, including myself. We kept this spirit going by hiring good, talented people. We’ve always had an excellent director of operations to help lead the charge. Mark Griffin, who joined our team in 2016 as SVP of operations, is making a big difference in the evolution of our business.

You followed in your parents’ footsteps as a second-generation grocer. Do you have any regrets?

PR: I have no regrets at all. Working in the grocery business is like a hobby, and I enjoy coming to work each day. I’m not sure what business would equal the number of great ideas I’ve see our teammates come up with and execute over the years. That’s my best business thrill: seeing their ideas succeed.

Credit card interchange fees (otherwise known as “swipe fees”) have become a hot-button issue for retailers. What would you tell the credit card company executives if given a chance?

PR: I’d alter the famous quote from Ronald Reagan and tell them, “Mr. Visa Banker, tear down those swipe fees!” I feel like I’m getting held up without a gun every day. Our credit and debit card fees are higher than our healthcare costs, our supply costs and higher than our marketing costs. And what do they all do to deserve these exorbitant fees?

Earlier this year, B&R Stores hosted the 10th Wine and Food Experience benefit event, which has raised nearly $400,000 over the past decade for the Lincoln Community Playhouse. What do you find to be most gratifying about supporting the arts in your community?

PR: Like a lot of local charities, the Lincoln Community Playhouse can really use the money. They do such a great job and are positively affecting the lives of so many Lincolnites by providing experiences they will cherish and remember their entire lives. It’s rewarding to be part of this process—not to mention that the wine and food show is a really fun and overall great event. In fact, our Wine and Food Experience is one of those great ideas created by our team that I reference above.

As we went to press with this issue, your sister, Jane Raybould, was campaigning as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate. How proud of her are you? And what do you feel makes her uniquely qualified to serve as a U.S. Senator?

PR: I’ve been proud of Jane all her life. She’s a go-getter, to say the least, and her campaign took guts and a large personal commitment. She’s worked hard and is a positive good listener, and it shows up in how she comes across in both private and public. She’s a leader who will not be beholden to any party figure. A few years back, our Republican governor called Jane a “positive force multiplier.” I’ve never heard that phrase before, and I kind of like it because it fits Jane to a T.

Lightning Round

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I bring up old B&R history too much.

Name one living person you admire.

Besides my family, I greatly admire Bruce Springsteen for giving his full effort and then some with every performance.

What is your personal motto?

Do the right thing.

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