One name strikes fear in the hearts of supermarket owners in New
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and now Maryland and
Massachusetts. Wegmans Food Markets. The regional grocery
chain owns more than 80 stores, but they are hardly typical. Much
larger than most supermarkets (up to 140,000 sq. ft.), they offer
more than 70,000 products and house huge in-store cafes, cheese
shops with some 300 different varieties, sub shops, and
French-style pastry shops. The company is known for its gourmet
cooking classes and an extensive employee-training program. Founded
in 1916, today Wegmans is one of the largest private companies in
the US. The grocery chain is owned and run by the family of founder
Rochester, New York-based Wegmans Food Markets operates more
than half (46) of its 80-plus stores in its home state.
Pennsylvania is next with about 15 stores.
The addition of new stores in new markets has spurred sales
growth. Indeed, Wegmans rang up an estimated $6.8 billion in sales
in 2013, compared with $6.6 billion and $6.2 billion in
sales in 2012 and 2011, respectively. The upscale regional
grocery chain, which aims to deliver a shopping experience more
akin to a European open-air market than a traditional supermarket,
has also benefited from the recovering US economy.
Under CEO Danny Wegman (and his daughter president Colleen
Wegman) the chain is entering new markets and introducing new
formats. In 2014 it plans to enter the Richmond, Virginia market.
After opening its first Massachusetts store (in
Northborough) in 2011 it opened another store in Cherry Hill
in April 2014 with a third slated for Burlington, Massachusetts in
the fall. Other new markets for Wegmans include northern New
Jersey. The chain entered Maryland three years ago and
now operates about a half a dozen stores there. Key to Wegmans'
success is its competitive pricing, mostly on its popular
private-label products. (The chain launches periodic price freezes
on dozens of seasonal products.) The retailer's aggressive
private-label strategy includes frequent product updates and
innovation. Wegmans recently introduced a line of gluten-free
private-label items, including pasta and cake mixes. Wegmans is not
only popular with shoppers, but also with employees. The company
has landed on FORTUNE magazine's list of the
"100 Best Companies to Work For," in each of the past 16 years
and captured the #5 spot in 2013; it was ranked #1 in
Wegmans Food Markets is a privately held, family-owned company,
founded in 1916 by the Wegman family.