Shaw's Supermarkets is the #3 grocery bagger in New England, behind Stop & Shop and Hannaford Bros. The company operates about 170 stores (with a heavy presence in the Boston area) under the Shaw's and Star Markets banners in five New England states. (The grocery chain exited Connecticut in 2010.) Most Shaw's stores feature Wild Harvest departments, which offer organic, preservative-free foods. About 90 locations house in-store pharmacies. The company also markets products under its own brands, such as Equaline, Happy Tails, HomeLife, and Shaw's. Shaw's Supermarkets, which traces its roots to 1860, is owned by grocery wholesaler and retailer SUPERVALU.
Shaw's Supermarkets became a division of SUPERVALU when SUPERVALU acquired Albertsons (in 2006). Now, amid the rapid deterioration of its sales and profits, SUPERVALU has announced it may sell all or parts of the company, clouding the New England grocery chain's future. In late 2012, SUPERVALU cut 700 store-level positions at Shaw's and Star market stores.
Shaw's operates 156 stores in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, while Star Market operates 13 stores in Massachusetts.
Key markets for Shaw's and Star Markets are Boston, where the grocer has a retail market share of nearly 17%, and Portland, Maine, where it competes head-to-head with Hannaford Bros.
With the New England economy still weak following the deep recession, Shaw's is looking to boost sales by targeting budget shoppers. The grocer is driving promotional programs, such as its 4:15 Meal Deals (dinner for four for less than $15) and Refund Rewards (free groceries with the purchase of gift cards). SUPERVALU is also helping the grocer to buoy sales by touting private-label goods and closing underperforming locations. Still, the company appears to be trailing rival Stop & Shop in appealing to value shoppers. (The heavy debt load from the Albertsons acquisition is believed to be hindering SUPERVALU's grocery chains from competing effectively on price.) In recent years Shaw's has pared its store network by more than 30 locations. Its most recent disposal came in 2010, when all 19 of Shaw's locations in Connecticut were sold to individual owners and Stop & Shop.
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