2012 Power 50: No. 23 Dan Bane

Dan Bane, chairman and chief executive officer of Trader Joe’s Co. [3], is presiding over the biggest annual growth spurt in the company’s history as consumer demand builds for the unique neighborhood format.

After opening 22 new stores in 2010 but just 14 last year, the company is picking up the pace, with plans to open more than 30 new stores this year and a target of 30 new stores a year going forward “because the company has the people to run them and the systems to support that growth,” one industry source told SN.

That has to be good news for consumers around the U.S. who don’t have access to a Trader Joe’s but who desire that one be built in their communities. “People travel a lot, and they talk to their friends,” one observer said, “and Trader Joe’s has very good buzz.”

Trader Joe’s is expected to add its second and third Florida locations when it opens sites in Sarasota and Gainesville later in the year.

The company also made its debut in Texas in mid-June with single stores in Fort Worth and Houston. It expects to open 11 or 12 more in the state over the next two years, sources indicated.

Other new markets the company has planned include Albany and Rochester in upstate New York; Salt Lake City; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and State College, Pa.

According to one observer, “Bane has established targets for growth that, for many in this industry, would not seem achievable but which the company has been able to reach or exceed because of his strong leadership and commitment to the company’s business philosophy.”

Bane spent 13 years as a public accountant and four years at Unified Grocers, Los Angeles, as senior vice president, finance and administration, before joining Trader Joe’s in 1998 as president of the company’s western operations. He was named chairman and CEO in 2001.

Trader Joe’s, based in Monrovia, Calif., operates 372 stores in 33 states and the District of Columbia, with sales for the year ending July 1 expected to be close to $9.5 billion, up about $1 billion from a year earlier.

Each location is presented to consumers as a neighborhood store, so each one is different, though all have the same merchandise assortment and the feel of any other Trader Joe’s, one observer said.

Others said consumers love Trader Joe’s small box — usually 12,000 to 15,000 square feet — and its edited assortment of mostly private-brand foods that create excitement and a break from the sameness of shopping at a conventional market.

Perhaps the chain’s only weakness, one source told SN, is the limited parking at most stores. “But that doesn’t seem to have much impact on consumers because the value proposition  is so strong,” he said.