Costco once again paced all club operators in the 70-county marketing territory. Ringing up some incredibly high volumes in and around the City of New York, the low-margin club merchant only opened one new club store in the past year but managed to impressively increase its same store sales. For its 43 stores in the 70-couty region, the Issaquah, WA discount merchant had estimated extrapolated sales of $3.45 billion.
Rounding out the top was the Associated Stores Group (a unit of AUA Private Equity Partners), which grew substantially this year with the acquisition of the Met and Pioneer banners that were once part of now bankrupt White Rose’s customer base. With the addition of those urban banners, ASG was able to grow its base in the five boroughs of New York, although in the post-merger transition (partially caused by the White Rose situation), some urban independent retailers did switch their alliance to competitors Key Food, Allegiance and Krasdale. Estimated annual retail sales for the 388 retailers who are currently part of ASG were $3.26 billion.
Other retailers that surpassed the billion dollar sales mark in the region include: BJ’s Wholesale Club (the Natick, MA based club retailer operated six more units this year and posted extrapolated estimated annual revenue of $ 2.85 billion); Wawa (sales of $2.76 billion at its 495 convenience stores excluding gas); Target (extrapolated estimated volume of $2.67 billion at its 136 units); Acme Markets (99 stores, which amassed estimated sales of $2.20 billion); independent marketing and advertising group C-Town, with estimated annual sales of $2.13 billion at its 206 locations; Weis Markets (annual revenue of $1.82 billion at its 110 stores); Key Food (whose independent retailers operated 180 stores and garnered $1.65 billion in sales); Whole Foods (41 stores with estimated sales of $1.61 billion); 7-Eleven (787 c-store units producing an estimated $1.18 billion in annual volume); and Wegmans (20 megastores whose collective estimated annual sales were $1.13 billion).
Sales leaders by class of trade were: supermarkets – ShopRite/PriceRite (254 stores with estimated annual sales of $13.73 billion); drug chains – CVS (1,024 stores with estimated sales of $5.01 billion); convenience stores – Wawa (495 stores with annual sales of $2.76 billion); mass merchandisers – Wal-Mart (169 stores with extrapolated estimated sales of $4.82 billion); club stores – Costco (43 stores with extrapolated estimated sales of $3.45 billion). Moreover, the region’s seven military commissaries rang up $106.8 million in annual sales.
Taken as a group, the 85 multi-store retailers in the survey operated 8,443 stores with sales of $93.94 billion, which represented 98.58 percent of the grocery, HBC, general merchandise, pharmacy, tobacco, beer and wine and floral products in the Food Trade News marketing area.
The biggest stories of the year included Albertsons/Cerberus $9.4 billion acquisition of Safeway and the bankruptcy of wholesalers AWI and White Rose and the subsequent acquisition of those firms by C&S Wholesale Grocers, which impacted the number of Shurfine/Shursave operators that remained in the group. Separate, but related to the bankruptcy was the acquisition of the Pioneer and Met banners by AUA Equity Partners (Associated Stores Group)
The competitive pressures of the business as well as industry acquisitions created some key executive changes. Jack Murphy was named CEO of beleaguered Fairway Market and Brian Cornell became Target’s new chairman and chief executive. At Delhaize America (Hannaford and Food Lion), Kevin Holt replaced Beth Newlands Campbell as president. Additionally, Sean Crane was named interim CEO of The Fresh Market, replacing Craig Carlock. Stefano Pessina assumed the interim helm at Walgreens after veteran CEO Greg Wasson retired. Industry veteran Bob Siegel came and left in less than a year after being named president of the revamped Associated Stores Group. Knowledgeable industry veteran John Derderian is the new president of Allegiance Retail Services (Foodtown), replacing Mike Stolarz, and Bob Miller reassumed the CEO post at Albertsons/Cerberus (Acme, Safeway) after former Safeway chief executive Robert Edwards held the reins during the transition process.
Those retailers who folded their tents in the Food Trade News market during the last year included Delhaize America’s 66-unit Bottom Dollar Stores and Murry’s small retail stores.
And finally, what changes should our readers be tracking during the next 12 months? Here are a few potential changes to think about: the possible Ahold’s acquisition of Delhaize; Lidl’s real estate activity as it prepares for its 2018 U.S. debut; and the unveiling of WFM’s new “365 by Whole Foods Market” banner when it opens its first group of stores next year.