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This year marks Dan Bane’s seventh year as captain, or chairman and chief executive officer, of the Trader Joe’s ship, and it looks as though the forecast calls for nothing but clear skies and smooth sailing ahead.
Before succeeding John Shields as chairman and CEO in July 2001, Bane was hired onto the Trader Joe’s team in 1998 as president of the chain’s western operations. Since Bane took over in 2001, the chain has added 135 more stores, bringing the total up to 310 in 23 states and the District of Columbia, with sales exceeding $6.6 billion.
“It is fair to say that they remain successful, have the most productive stores in the industry, have motivated, committed people, and succeed in every market that they enter,” said Neil Stern, senior partner with McMillan Doolittle, a Chicago-based retail consulting firm.
“They can only be admired and envied, because the concept is so unique and so difficult to replicate. Fresh & Easy obviously tried to do a lot of what Trader Joe’s has already succeeded in doing.”
Trader Joe’s and Fresh & Easy have been compared ever since Fresh & Easy’s entrance into the U.S. marketplace. However, according to a recent report in the Los Angeles Times, it appears that Trader Joe’s is unfazed by the British invasion, despite having a Fresh & Easy move in just an Office Depot away from a Trader Joe’s in Manhattan Beach, Calif.
“We at Trader Joe’s are simply focused on getting better at what we do every single day,” Alison Mochizuki, spokeswoman for Trader Joe’s, said in the recently published report.
“We’re not concerned about what other retailers say and do.”
Stern said it’s just this attitude that keeps Bane and Trader Joe’s among the star players in the industry.
“Trader Joe’s remains a stunningly successful concept that manages to fly under the radar because they seek no publicity themselves,” Stern told SN.
Despite the company’s aversion to the spotlight, Bane, much like the Trader Joe’s brand, is known to be very accessible within the Trader Joe’s organization. He visits each store in the chain three or four times per year and spends two to three days each week actually working at the checkstands with employees and customers.
As one observer noted in SN’s profile of the company last month, “He’s helped Trader Joe’s hold on to its great brand equity, while maintaining the important part of the company’s old culture — making everyone an important part of the organization and staying close to consumers.”