Wegmans stakes new territory in North Carolina
- Wegmans Food Markets will open its first location in North Carolina this September, according to a press release from the company. The 104,000-square-foot store will be located in Raleigh at the Midtown East Shopping Center.
- The store will employ 475 people. The retailer began hiring for 150 full-time employees in January, and is now accepting applications to hire 325 part-time employees. A majority of employees will be new to the company and hired locally.
- The new Wegmans will have a characteristic assortment including fresh produce, artisan breads, imported cheeses and fresh meat and seafood. The North Carolina location will also include The Burger Bar, a fast-casual eatery that serves burgers, salads, sandwiches, soups, kids meals, beer and wine.
Wegmans continues to look to new states for expansion, staking out ground in North Carolina after announcing plans to open its first store in Delaware, near Wilmington, by 2022. The company currently operates in six states, primarily in the Northeast, but is steadily moving south as it sees opportunities to bring its celebrated stores to new markets. The Raleigh store is one of four future locations planned for North Carolina, but the only one that will open in 2019, according to Wegmans' website.
North Carolina is becoming a crowded market. Wegmans' arrival could prove to be a challenge to other retailers, including Publix, which opened its first store in Raleigh last year and is pushing up the East Coast. Publix’s sales surged 3.8% in Q4 last year despite increasing competition. The company is opening one of its GreenWise market concepts in South Carolina later this year, which will offer health and wellness-centric products like a kombucha bar, smoothies, bulk items, and a plethora of organic goods.
As high respected regional operators that both focus on customer service and in-store experience, Publix and Wegmans will give each other a wide berth. But the two could very well compete for promising real estate in the months and years ahead.
Harris Teeter, Aldi and Whole Foods are also big players in the state and surrounding region, and other retailers have their eye on the mid-Atlantic, too. Sprouts Farmers Market is planning 13 new locations in the second half of 2019, including its first store in North Carolina. Food Lion announced that it plans to remodel 92 of its stores in South Carolina while increasing product offerings to include more local, natural, organic and gluten-free items.
In addition to its strong reputation for customer service and high-quality grocery offerings, Wegmans differentiates itself with its employee-first approach. The company offers competitive benefits packages, tuition assistance and bonus pay on Sundays and holidays, and is recognized as one of the best places to work in the supermarket industry.
Despite its repeated recognition as the best grocery store in America, Wegmans isn't settling. In addition to ongoing expansion plans, the company recently started offering curbside pickup at its Rochester, New York stores. In February, the grocer enacted a two-week price cut to support SNAP recipients through the government shutdown.