2019 Retail Pacesetters: Wegmans continues to make its presence felt

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2019 Retail Pacesetters: Wegmans continues to make its presence felt

By Carol Radice - 05/07/2019
Family-owned Wegmans might only operate 98 stores in half a dozen states — New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts — but with 48,000 employees and $8.9 billion in annual sales it is one of the largest privately held companies in the United States.

The Rochester, N.Y.-based company dates back to 1916 and is best known for raising the bar on the customer shopping experience, offering tons of product choices, restaurant-quality prepared foods, modern stores, eye-catching displays, and top-notch customer service. It is clear that Wegmans, which has won dozens of awards and distinctions, works hard to live up to its customer pledge: “Every Day You Get Our Best.”

The company also widely is recognized for being a great place to work. Employees consistently give the company high marks for its extensive array of benefits, including competitive pay and benefits packages, higher compensation for working Sundays and holidays, flexible scheduling, and tuition assistance. An estimated 7,400 people that work at Wegmans, or 15% of its workforce, have been with the company 15 years or more.

A typical Wegmans features 50,000-to-70,000 products, including more than 4,000 organic choices. Given its larger-than-average-sized assortment, Wegmans stores often range from 75,000-to-140,000 sq. ft. Store design emulates a European open-air market and balances higher-margin perimeter offerings with many value-add departments, including a Market Café, sub shop, coffee shop, organic salad bar/veggie bar, homestyle bar and Asian bar, pizza shop, artisan bakery, pharmacy, housewares, seasonal merchandise, floral shop, greeting cards, gifts, and a large HBC department.

The chain has been busy entering new markets as of late. Wegmans made headlines earlier this year when it announced it would be opening a store in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The store, which has a projected opening date of fall 2019, is located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and at 74,000 sq. ft. will be on the smaller side for Wegmans. It will feature a 100-seat Market Café on the second-floor mezzanine, as well as a bar serving wine, beer and spirits. As other Wegmans do, this location will follow the European market look and feel.

In another round of firsts, Wegmans also announced that it would be opening its first North Carolina store this fall in Raleigh, making it the seventh state the retailer operates in. In addition to the usual Wegmans offerings, the 104,000-sq.-ft. supermarket will feature a family-friendly casual restaurant counter called the Burger Bar.

In February, Wegmans expanded its curbside pickup service, offered in partnership with Instacart, to include all Rochester stores. The program, which launched a year ago, now is available throughout the company’s current six-state footprint.

Neil Stern, a senior partner at McMillanDoolittle in Chicago, said Wegmans excels in everything it does because it continues to push the envelope, particularly when it comes to innovation. “Wegmans has long been an industry leader in perishables and prepared foods. They set the standard in both of these areas and have now extended this to powerful local assortments and the most comprehensive options in meal solutions,” Stern said.

He also said that the company stands out for its focus on people. “Wegmans consistently lands on everyone’s list as one of the most admired companies in America and one of the best places to work. The mere fact that such a large percentage of its work-force has been with the company more than a decade is a testament to how well the Wegmans family treats its employees.”

This story is one of 20 profiles of retailers who are making a difference in the industry. To read more, click here