Meijer (pronounced "Meyer") is a giant of retailing in the Midwest. The company's huge combination grocery and general merchandise stores average 200,000 to 250,000 sq. ft. each (or about the size of four regular grocery stores) and stock about 120,000 items, including Meijer private-label products. Meijer operates some 200 locations; about half are in Michigan, while the rest are in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. Customers can choose from 40-plus departments, including apparel, electronics, hardware, and toys. Most stores also sell gasoline, offer banking services, and have multiple in-store restaurants. Founder Hendrik Meijer opened his first store in 1934; the business is still family owned and run.
In addition its large combination grocery and general merchandise stores, Meijer operates about 175 gas stations, a pair of car washes, and about a half a dozen smaller Meijer Grocery Express stores.
One of America's largest private companies, Meijer's stores rang up an estimated $14.4 billion in sales in fiscal 2012 (ends January), up more than 1% vs. the prior year.
Although the discount superstore format is most often referred to in conjunction with rival Wal-Mart, Meijer is its pioneer. But that hasn't stopped the world's #1 retailer from muscling in on Meijer's markets. Meijer is also facing increased pressure from warehouse club stores, drugstores, and supermarket chains, like Kroger. In response, the chain has added fresh produce and meat departments to improve its grocery offering. Some of that produce is purchased locally through the company's "Home Grown" initiative. Meijer is also cutting prices and renovating its stores. It's also experimenting with "smaller" food-centered formats designed for more densely populated locations, such as Chicago and its suburbs -- a key market for the company. (Wal-Mart also has big plans for the greater Chicago area.) Indeed, in 2011 Meijer launched a new store concept tailored for the Chicago market called Meijer Marketplace. At 90,000 square feet (relatively small for Meijer) the new "mini" supercenter is located in Melrose Park. The Melrose Park store offers both food and general merchandise, and stock foods popular with Hispanics and Italians, in a bid to cater to local tastes. It also houses a full-service pharmacy. The company, which has added about 25 stores in the past four years, broke ground in May 2012 for its first grocery supercenter in Detroit. It's also making plans to expand into Wisconsin.