Since Laura Shapira Karet became president and chief executive officer of Giant Eagle in January 2012, succeeding her father, David Shapira, two themes have stood out: low prices and more format diversity.
In March, the Pittsburgh-based chain executed the single largest price reduction in its history, reducing prices on 3,000 items by 15%, and maintaining that everyday level since then. In addition, the company has launched three separate “low-price-lock” campaigns for hundreds of products, one last October, one in January and one in March, which will continue into the summer.
“We believe that the combination of our recently reduced everyday prices and low-price-lock seasonal campaigns has resonated strongly with customers, and plan to continue each program in some fashion in future months,” said Karet in an email communication.
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“While the economy has recovered some, consumers remain extremely price sensitive,” noted Neil Stern, senior partner, McMillanDoolittle, Chicago. “Giant Eagle is showing that they are price competitive.”
Giant Eagle recently expanded its popular fuelperks! gas rewards program with a GetGo fuel discount program that gives customers who scan their Advantage loyalty card at the pump the choice of saving 3 cents per gallon or using their available fuelperks! discounts. The expansion came after the chain canceled its foodperks! rewards program, from which “only a very small percentage of our customers” realized significant savings, said Karet.
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Privately held Giant Eagle has long been known for its diverse store formats, including the conventional Giant Eagle (217 locations), upscale Market District (five), downsized Giant Eagle Express (two), discounted Valu King (five), GetGo convenience stores (188) and its newest design, Good Cents Grocery + More (two), a cross between Valu King and a service format. Of its 229 supermarkets across four states, 177 are corporately run and 52 are independent.
This year, Giant Eagle converted a Valu King in Eastlake, Ohio, to the Good Cents banner, following the opening of a Good Cents in Pittsburgh late last year in the same shopping center as a Bottom Dollar store. The five remaining Valu King locations, including three in Pennsylvania, will continue in the near future to operate under the current banner as the company determines the “best timing for their conversion to Good Cents,” Karet said.
“More so than the Valu King banner, we believe that Good Cents reflects the real fresh, not real fancy experience for customers who know how to recognize a great deal on high quality products,” she added. Giant Eagle will also open two additional Market District stores in Ohio this summer.
“Our future success will depend largely on our ability to continue to improve and expand our multi-format strategy to meet the varying needs of our customers, and to continually look for opportunities to improve our overall value offering,” Karet said.
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