- Wakefern, the country's largest retailer cooperative, reported sales of $16.5 billion for the year ending Sept. 29 — a 1.6% increase over the previous year, according to a news release. During that time, the company opened four Shop Rite stores and two Price Rite Marketplace stores.
- Executives noted that the cooperative, which comprises 50 members and 352 supermarkets across 10 East Coast states, plans to open more new stores and remodel existing locations next year. Growth areas include private label innovation and e-commerce, Executive Vice President Chris Lane told attendees at the annual shareholders meeting.
- "So much has changed in such a short amount of time in the supermarket industry. What hasn't changed for Wakefern is our commitment to helping small businesses succeed in a big business world," Lane said.
To keep pace in the very competitive markets where it operates, Wakefern is putting its chips on store remodels, private label and an evolving e-commerce offering.
Earlier this month, the cooperative opened three remodeled Price Rite Marketplace stores that zeroed in on price messaging and a fresher product assortment. The Pennsylvania stores featured a "Drop Zone" of products priced under $3 along with price cuts on hundreds of items. The updates also included an enhanced assortment of fresh items, new signage, LED lighting and more self checkout lanes.
Price Rite Marketplace also stepped up its assortment of Wholesome Pantry products, the natural and organic private label line the company developed last year. In May, Wakefern introduced ShopRite Trading Company, a specialty and gourmet grocery line.
Wakefern's e-commerce offering, which launched way back in 2002, also continues to evolve. Over the summer, the cooperative announced a tool that allows suppliers to give their listings a promotional boost online. Wakefern is also working closely with vendors to improve its pricing and marketing opportunities. At the Shoptalk retail conference earlier this year, Chief Information Officer Cheryl Williams said the company has taken a closer look at which products shoppers buy online and which they buy in stores, and adjusted its approach accordingly.
Joe Sheridan, president and chief operating officer, said Wakefern also is investing in store technology, including artificial intelligence, to enhance the store experience. AI has been the focus of numerous investments from retailers in recent years, from automated online order fulfillment to aisle-scanning robots.
The company isn't standing still as long-time competitors and new ones like Lidl in New Jersey threaten. Along with a cooperative approach that emphasizes knowledge sharing and deep community roots, Wakefern hopes innovation can carry its stores into a new era of omnichannel retailing.