The Weis family is wise to the ways of grocery retailing. Weis (pronounced "Wise") Markets, founded in 1912, runs more than 160 grocery stores (averaging about 49,000 sq. ft.), 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 has 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 its business through a single segment: grocery retail (following the sale of its SuperPetz pet supply warehouse stores business).
Altogether, Weis Markets operates more than 160 retail stores in a handful of states, supported by Pennsylvania-based distribution centers, an ice cream plant, meat processing plant, milk processing facility, and warehouse complex.
Center Store sales generated about 59% of Weis Market's total 2013 revenue; the rest comes from Fresh Food sales (29%), Pharmacy Services (9%), and Fuel (3%).
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 2013 and 2012, compared with $24.7 million in 2011 and $25.1 million in 2010.
Weis Markets rang up $2.69 billion in sales in 2013, an $8.8 million decrease versus the prior year. Net income was also down 13% to $71.7 million over the same period after four consecutive years of profit growth. The sales slide was attributed to a drop in same-store sales and a decrease in pharmacy services sales. Thanks to new inventory control buying procedures, which boosted efficiencies at its distribution center, and decreases in deferred income taxes, Weis Markets posted $142.6 million in cash flow from operations -- an increase of $18.7 million.
Century-old Weis Markets continues to remake itself by investing in new superstore construction, expanding and remodeling established stores, and acquiring new ones. It acquired three of the Genuardi's Family Markets' stores in the Philadelphia area from grocery-giant Safeway in 2012. The stores reopened under the Weis banner. It's also adding new services, such as online shopping, which launched at its Lewisburg store, and an in-store beer garden at the retailer's Stroudsburg store (debuted in 2014 for Octoberfest).
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 freeze and lower prices on thousands of staple items. In addition to 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.