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Wakefern retail sales rise 1.5% for FY 2017

President of discount Price Rite banner retires; Burns joins board

Wakefern Food Corp., the Keasbey, N.J.-based wholesale cooperative that supplies the ShopRite chain, said its total retail sales increased 1.5% in fiscal 2017, to $16.3 billion.

During the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, the company and its members opened four new ShopRite stores, two Fresh Grocer locations and two Price Rite Marketplace stores.

Wakefern has overall been performing well in the wake of the closure of competitive locations in several of its markets, according to one observer, although sales results were muted by commodity-price deflation and some new store openings.

“Wakefern continues to show dynamic growth,” said the observer, who asked not to be identified.

The company also said that Neil Duffy, president of Price Rite Marketplace, is retiring. Price Rite is a discount banner owned by Wakefern that has 64 locations in nine states.

“Neil’s dedication and hard work helped grow the popular Price Rite brand over the last 12 years, and we thank him for his service to Wakefern,” said Joseph S. Colalillo, chairman and CEO of Wakefern.

The company could not immediately respond to questions about who would succeed Duffy at Price Rite.

In addition, Larry Collins, whose Collins Family Markets operates ShopRites in Philadelphia, Eddystone and Glenolden, Pa., is retiring from the company’s board of directors, Wakefern said.

Joining the Wakefern board will be Patrick J. Burns, CEO of Philadelphia-based Burn’s Family Neighborhood Markets, which operates stores under both the Fresh Grocer and ShopRite banners and joined the cooperative in 2013.

At the company’s annual meeting on Friday, Wakefern cited among its accomplishments during the past year the expansion of its Wholesome Pantry line of clean-label products and the introduction of its newest private brand, ShopRite Trading Co.

“Wakefern Food Corp. and our supermarket banners continue to innovate and elevate the customer experience with great new brands, our store dietitians, digital platforms and a continued focus on fresh,” said Joe Sheridan, president and COO, Wakefern.

Wakefern is the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the U.S., with 50 members who own and operate 345 supermarkets under the ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite and Dearborn Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Virginia.

According to the National Cooperative Bank, Wakefern is the fourth-largest cooperative of any kind in the U.S., with wholesale revenues of $12.84 billion in calendar 2016.

“We are committed to providing great community stores and delivering exceptional experiences with each of our four banners,” said Chris Lane, executive VP, Wakefern. “It’s a time of great change for the supermarket industry, and I am excited for what we will achieve over the course of the next year and for generations to come.”

Village sales flat for year

Wakefern’s second-largest largest member, Village Super Markets, earlier this month reported flat sales for its recent fiscal year on a 52-week basis. Sales totaled $1.6 billion in fiscal 2017, which contained 52 weeks, vs. $1.63 billion in fiscal 2016, which contained 53 weeks.

The company, which is based in Springfield, N.J., operates 29 ShopRites, primarily in New Jersey.

Village said its same-store sales received a positive boost from three store closings by competitors and sales growth from two recently remodeled and expanded stores, offset primarily by four competitor store openings and deflation, particularly in the meat, produce and dairy departments.

Net income at Village totaled $22.9 million in fiscal 2017, which ended July 29, compared with $25 million in fiscal 2016. Excluding several extraordinary items in both years, net income was down about 7% in fiscal 2017 vs. the prior year, the company said, primarily due to flat same-store sales and increased operating expenses.

Village projected that its same-store sales would range from a decrease of 2% to flat in 2018.

“We expect sales trends to be negatively impacted by several local competitor store openings and continued competitive pressure on retail price inflation,” the company said in its annual 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Separately, Village also said that Robert Sumas would succeed James Sumas as CEO of Village, effective Dec. 15, and William Sumas would succeed him as chairman of the board. James Sumas announced his resignation from both positions.

Robert Sumas has been president since 2009.

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