Wakefern boasts more than 9% sales growth at annual meeting
At Wakefern Food's Oct. 22 live virtual annual shareholder meeting, the retailer cooperative disclosed sales of $18.3 billion for the 53-week fiscal year ending Oct. 3, a 9.75% increase from the prior year.
Over the past year, Wakefern also opened four new ShopRite stores; welcomed a new banner, New York-based Fairway Market; and added a new member, the Maniaci family, whose business, Nicholas Markets, now operates four new Fresh Grocer supermarkets in northern New Jersey.
“Our store associates embraced their roles,” noted Wakefern Chairman and CEO Joseph Colalillo. “Their courage and commitment was amazing, their teamwork energizing. Throughout the last seven months, I’ve witnessed our entire organization live our purpose of caring deeply about people, helping them to eat well and be happy. It never had to be said; it’s just what we did.”
According to Wakefern president and COO Joe Sheridan, 2020 gave rise to a new customer with new expectations that include cooking more at home and shopping more online. To meet the needs of this new customer, Wakefern beefed up the capacity of its online shopping offerings, among them ShopRite from Home, and is continuing to refine its digital shopping experience.
“Our customers turned to us for reassurance and for the things they wanted and needed for their families during this challenging time, and we were there for our customers, our neighbors, our friends and our families,” observed Sheridan. “There have been a lot of changes to how we operate and how people shop, but our goal is always to provide the best and safest possible shopping experience for our customers. And that’s exactly what we are doing.”
Wakefern executive vice president Chris Lane reported on the company’s successful initiatives, including the ongoing rollout of ShopRite private brands Bowl & Basket and Paperbird, and the recent expansion and rebrand of its Wholesome Pantry and Wholesome Pantry Organic lines, which now also boast a new tagline, “Food Set Free.”
Further, the company opened its second stand-alone micro-fulfillment center, which employs advanced robotics to quickly put together ShopRite from Home grocery orders and grows the reach and capacity of online shopping service for stores. Lane noted the co-op plans to open more micro-fulfillment centers over the next few years.
Lane also discussed Wakefern’s plans to provide affordable fresh foods and meal solutions for customers. Fresh to Table, introduced this month at three ShopRite stores, is a convenient store-within-a-store offering customers a new way to access fresh meal solutions and trending foods, as well as a digital component with the newly revamped ShopRite Order Express app and integrated recipe shopping lists available through in-store QR codes and online.
Colalillo presented the 2020 Chairman’s Award to Doug Wille, who recently retired from his position as Wakefern’s CFO. Neil Falcone, Wakefern’s former VP of ShopRite Financial Services (SFS) and corporate finance, has succeeded him in the role.
Geoffrey Eickhoff, president and COO of Delran, New Jersey-based Eickhoff’s Supermarkets, was elected as a member of Wakefern’s board of directors during the meeting, while Vince Lo Curcio, of Nutley Park ShopRite in New Jersey, retired after 10 years on the board.
Wakefern shareholders re-elected to the board at meeting were Colalillo, chairman and CEO; Sean McMenamin, Larri Wolfson, Dominick J. Romano and Irv Glass, vice chairmen; Lawrence Inserra Jr., treasurer; Jeffrey Brown, assistant treasurer; Richard Saker, secretary, and Ned Gladstein, Nicholas Sumas and Shawn Ravitz, assistant secretaries. Sheridan was also re-elected president and COO, and Lane was re-elected exective vice president.
Last year, the company reported retail sales of $16.6 billion for the 52-week year ending Sept. 28, a 0.7% increase from the prior year and a new company record.
The largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States, Keasbey, New Jersey-based Wakefern comprises 51 members that independently own and operate more than 350 supermarkets under the ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite Marketplace, Gourmet Garage and Dearborn Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.