Taking the wheel as chief executive officer in a time of economic hardship was no easy feat for Publix Super Market’s Ed Crenshaw. But he has steered the ship well during his first year, acquiring 49 Albertsons stores, reopening 33 of them and taking the Lakeland, Fla.-based retailer past its 1,000-store milestone.
“2008-2009 have been tough economic years,” said spokeswoman Maria Brous. “We continue to make plans that will guide us through the recession and beyond.”
The largest employee-owned supermarket chain in the U.S. commanded $23.9 billion in retail sales during 2008 and has a current employee count of more than 139,500. By growing through acquisitions, the retailer did not have to eliminate positions, Brous said.
“We have continued to expand in tough economic times and are privileged to say that we have created jobs with our growth as opposed to laying off associates.”
Publix ranked No. 31 for salaried employees and No. 78 for hourly employees on Fortune’s Big Pay list. It also ranked No. 32 on Fortune’s Best Large-Sized Company list.
While first-quarter 2009 sales were $6.4 billion, a 2.2% increase from last year’s $6.2 billion, comparable-store sales declined 2.8 percent. “Our costs are continuing to rise while many customers are struggling to make ends meet,” Crenshaw said in a statement last fall.
In the past year, Publix has implemented aggressive promotions in an effort to offer customers value with its budget-friendly meal deals and Essentials program where key products like bathroom tissue, milk and produce are discounted, sometimes as much as 20%. The retailer also has regular buy-one, get-one-free items featured in weekly ads.
— Amy Sung