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2011 Power 50: No. 23 Dan Bane

2011 Power 50: No. 23 Dan Bane

Dan Bane, chairman and chief executive officer of Trader Joe's for the past decade, could probably get a job as one of Cupid's helpers, given the way consumers absolutely love Trader Joe's.

What they love is the small box with an edited assortment of high-quality foods that create excitement while avoiding the sameness of conventional markets with a variety of unique private brands.

To spread the love even further, Trader Joe's plans to increase the number of stores it opens annually — moving from 22 new stores last year to as many as 25 by the end of this year and between 25 and 30 more in 2012.

The increase is based partly on the chain's ongoing success and partly by an increase in real estate availability, industry sources told SN.

Observers said Trader Joe's does well wherever it goes.

According to one observer, “Trader Joe's is able to achieve something that's extremely difficult to do, which is to continually reinforce the company brand and culture so that the brand and customer remain consistent, which also means the organization does a good job policing itself and keeping the ship on a steady course.”

Trader Joe's operates 356 stores in 28 states with sales estimated at $8.5 billion. It added locations in Iowa and Nebraska this year, with future expansion reportedly scheduled for Texas and Florida (with more stores likely to open in Texas than Florida), observers said.

Bane joined Trader Joe's in 1998 after a four-year stint as senior vice president, finance and administration, for Unified Grocers, Los Angeles. Originally hired as president for the company's western operations, he was named chairman and CEO in 2001.

“Dan is very bright, and he's done a great job crystallizing the Trader Joe's concept and executing it,” Al Plamann, CEO of Unified Grocers, told SN.

“He saw an opportunity to get his brand into areas where the company had limited exposure, primarily in the Northeast. And when he found the right communities in which to locate, other communities insisted they wanted their own Trader Joe's, and he's been able to use the equity of the brand to expand further.”

As for the possibility of going up against a Walmart Express, “the company's philosophy is, it does what it does wherever it does, and that's all it can worry about,” one industry source said.