Retail sales climbed for the 2018 fiscal year at grocery cooperative Wakefern Food Corp.
The 50-member, retailer-owned co-op said Friday that sales for its ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite Marketplace and Dearborn Market supermarket banners totaled $16.5 billion, a gain of 1.6% year over year.
During the 52-week period, Wakefern opened four new ShopRite stores and two Price Rite Marketplace stores. The locations included ShopRite stores in Philadelphia and the Bronx, Lake Ronkonkoma and Rensselaer, N.Y., and Price Rite stores in Paterson, N.J., and Amherst, N.Y.
The Keasbey, N.J.-based company finished the year with 352 stores in 10 states: New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Virginia.
Wakefern executives gave an update on the business yesterday at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in East Brunswick, N.J.
“Thank you for believing that our way of doing business — a cooperative of family-owned businesses — can compete and win against the competition that comes our way,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Colalillo told about 900 attendees. “The strong relationships we've created with our customers have built our brands and businesses.”
According to President and Chief Operating Officer Joe Sheridan, Wakefern plans more new stores and remodels for 2019 as well as an expansion of its e-commerce offerings and capabilities. For example, he reported that the company is testing artificial intelligence and next-generation learning technology to enhance the retail experience.
“Wakefern and our supermarket banners — ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer and Dearborn Market — are always working to innovate and elevate the customer experience,” Sheridan said at the event. “The supermarket industry is changing rapidly, and we are adapting to provide exceptional shopping experiences, both in store and online.”
Looking at retail operations, Executive Vice President Chris Lane pointed to rebranding initiatives, including at Price Rite, and an expanded private-label portfolio.
Earlier this month, Price Rite unveiled new store designs, broader fresh and private-label offerings and enhanced price savings at locations in Bethlehem, Allentown and Secane, Pa. And at the end of May, ShopRite introduced a premium store brand called ShopRite Trading Company, which made its debut with about 40 items.
Lane added that Wakefern also is building a team to source on-trend products with innovative packaging and design.
"So much has changed in such a short amount of time in the supermarket industry,” he said to shareholders. “What hasn't changed for Wakefern is our commitment to helping small businesses succeed in a big-business world.”
Also at the event, Colalillo announced the retirement of Chuck Infusino, president of Little Falls ShopRite Supermarkets Inc., from the Wakefern board of directors and the appointment of Tom Cingari, a partner in Grade A Market of Connecticut to the board.
“We thank Chuck for his service and commitment to the board. He will remain active in the cooperative and his own family company, which operates the ShopRite of Little Falls,” Colalillo commented. “We welcome Tom to the board and look forward to working with him and all the board members to shape the course of our cooperative's future.”
Shareholders re-elected to Wakefern’s board at the meeting were Colalillo as chairman and CEO; Larri Wolfson, Dominick J. Romano and Irv Glass as vice chairmen; Lawrence Inserra Jr. as treasurer; Jeffrey Brown and Sean McMenamin as assistant treasurers; Richard Saker as secretary; and Ned Gladstein, Nicholas Sumas and Shawn Ravitz as assistant secretaries. Also re-elected to executive posts were Sheridan as president and COO and Lane as executive vice president.