The Weis family is wise to the ways of grocery retailing. Weis (pronounced "Wise") Markets, founded in 1912, runs more than 160 grocery stores (average size approximately 49,000 square feet), mostly in Pennsylvania but also in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia, as well as a single Save-A-Lot discount store in Pennsylvania. (In recent years, the company converted its Mr. Z's Food Mart, King's Supermarkets, and Cressler's Marketplace stores to the Weis Markets banner to go to market under a unified retail presence.) The company sold the last of its SuperPetz pet supply warehouse stores in 2011. The Weis family controls the company.
The Pennsylvania-based grocery chain operates a single business segment: grocery retail, following the sale of its SuperPetz pet supply warehouse stores business.
Sales and Marketing
The regional grocery company advertises its products and brands through weekly newspaper circulars, radio and TV ads, e-mail, and online via its website, social media, and mobile applications. Weis Markets spent $23.5 million on advertising in 2012, compared with $24.7 million and $25.1 million in 2011 and 2010, respectively.
Weis Markets rang up $2.7 billion in sales in 2012, a 2% decrease versus the prior year. Net income was up 9% over the same period, marking its fourth consecutive year of profit growth. The sales slide was attributed to a 2% drop in same-store sales. The decline in sales in 2012 reversed three previous positive annual sales comparisons in 2009 thru 2011.
Century-old Weis Markets continues to remake itself along with an investment in new superstore construction, expansion and remodeling of established stores, and acquisition of new ones. It acquired three of the Genuardi's Family Markets' stores in the Philadelphia area from grocery-giant Safeway in mid-2012. The stores reopened under the Weis banner.
Weis Markets has had to contend with continued weakness and cautious consumer spending, although parts of the country enjoy the stirrings of economic recovery. To spur sales, Weis instituted periodic "Price Freeze" events in 2009 and they continue to this day. The events freeeze and lower prices on thousands of staples. In addition the price freezes and other promotions, the company's "Weis Rewards" loyalty card program allows shoppers to earn discounts from 5% to 20% on future purchases.
Leading Weis Markets through lean times is David Hepfinger, who was promoted from COO to the dual roles of president and chief executive in 2009. Hepfinger's first year in charge was an ambitious one for the company, notable for the purchase of the 11 Giant Markets stores. In addition to boosting company sales in a poor economic environment, the acquisition allowed the grocery chain to gain a stronger market position in the Binghamton area in upstate New York.
Chairman and nonagenarian Robert Weis and family own 65% of the company's stock.