The Vons Companies shares Southern California's crowded dinner table with some big and hungry rivals. The company operates about 275 stores primarily in Southern California, which is also home to Ralphs and Food 4 Less (both owned by Kroger) and privately-held Stater Bros., but also in Nevada. Its supermarkets operate under the Vons (traditional supermarkets) and Pavilions (upscale supermarkets) banners. More than half of its supermarkets offer separate service departments for floral, bakery, and deli products, while some have full-service pharmacies and dry-cleaning departments. The company operates its own facilities for producing milk, ice cream, and baked goods. Vons is owned by Safeway.
Vons operates stores in Southern California and Nevada. Major markets for the chain include Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, and Las Vegas.
Vons.com offers online shopping and delivery services to customers in the San Gabriel Valley and is extending the service to other areas of Southern California and, most recently, to the Greater Las Vegas, Nevada, area. Vons.com is operated by GroceryWorks, which is owned by parent Safeway.
While Safeway doesn't break out the performance of its individual grocery chains, it has struggled in recent years and is restructuring by selling its Canadian division and poor performing divisions in the US. Vons is not one of them. However, Vons too has struggled along with the Southern California economy, Safeway posted a huge impairment charge of about $1.8 billion in 2010 mostly to write down the value of Vons and its grocery stores in the eastern US due to the weak business climate.
Caught between Wal-Mart Supercenters on the low end and Whole Foods Market on the pricey side, traditional grocery chains, including Vons, have begun reinventing themselves to maintain market share. To that end, Vons has converted many of its stores in Orange County to its parent Safeway's Lifestyle format, which is designed to rival upscale chains by featuring expanded selections of perishable foods, organic products, and other high-end amenities.
However, after the deep recession in the US many Vons shoppers apparently are opting for low prices over amenities. As a result, the regional supermarket chain has seen its customer buying less, trading down to less expensive brands, and increasingly shopping at discounters, such as Wal-Mart Supercenters and limited assortment ALDI. The company is pushing its private-label brand merchandise to lure budget conscious shoppers.
To pamper its customers Vons offers in-store banking facilities, one-hour photo labs, video rentals, and store-within-a-store restaurants in some supermarkets. Its roughly 30 Pavilions stores feature larger selections of meat, seafood, and wine (and even provide wine stewards). Pavilions also feature in-store Panda Express Chinese fast-food restaurants.
Like other Safeway-owned chains, Vons sells its parent company's lines of dairy products and other private-label merchandise under the Safeway SELECT, Signature, O Organics, and Rancher's Reserve brands, among others.
Vons' parent company, Safeway, is among the nation's largest grocery chains, with 1,330 stores in the US and sales of $36.1 billion in 2013. (Vons was sold to Safeway in 1997.) Safeway has agreed to merge with Albertsons.