Wakefern Announces $16.5 Billion In Sales & Focus On Private Brands

Keasbey, NJ based Wakefern Food Corp. Chairman and CEO Joseph S. Colalillo, President and COO Joe Sheridan and Executive Vice President Chris Lane addressed Wakefern shareholders, store management and staff at the company’s annual shareholder meeting this past Thursday, October 25 in East Brunswick, NJ.

The company reported record retail sales of $16.5 billion for the 52-week fiscal year ending September 29, 2018, a 1.6 percent increase from the prior year. The largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States, Wakefern opened four new ShopRite stores and two Price Rite Marketplace stores during the same period.

“Thank you for believing that our way of doing business – a cooperative of family-owned businesses – can compete and win against the competition that comes our way,” Colalillo told an audience of nearly 900 people at the Hilton in East Brunswick. “The strong relationships we’ve created with our customers have built our brands and businesses.”

Colalillo also announced the retirement of Chuck Infusino, president of Little Falls ShopRite Supermarkets, Inc., from Wakefern’s Board of Directors and the addition of Tom Cingari, a partner in Grade A Market, CT.
“We thank Chuck for his service and commitment to the Board. He will remain active in the cooperative and his own family company, which operates the ShopRite of Little Falls,” noted Colalillo. “We welcome Tom to the board and look forward to working with him and all the Board members to shape the course of our cooperative’s future.”

Joe Sheridan recapped Wakefern’s accomplishments over the past year and noted future plans to open and remodel more stores in 2019 while expanding and enhancing e-commerce. He said Wakefern is actively testing artificial intelligence and next generation learnings to enhance the retail experience.

“Wakefern and our supermarket banners, ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer and Dearborn Market, are always working to innovate and elevate the customer experience. The supermarket industry is changing rapidly and we are adapting to provide exceptional shopping experiences, both in store and online,” Sheridan told the audience.

Chris Lane reported on efforts to enhance retail operations through targeted rebranding efforts and a focus on private brands. Wakefern, he said, is building a team to source on-trend products with innovative packaging and design.

He also cited the rollout earlier this month of a new format and reimagined shopping experience at three Price Rite Marketplace pilot stores in Pennsylvania. The rebranded stores in Allentown, Bethlehem and Secane focus on special deep discounts while offering more organics, more fresh foods, more convenience and better value.

“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,” added Lane.

Wakefern shareholders also re-elected to the Board of Directors at Thursday’s meeting include: Colalillo, Chairman and CEO; Larri Wolfson, Dominick J. Romano and Irv Glass, Vice Chairmen; Lawrence Inserra, Jr., Treasurer; Jeffrey Brown and Sean McMenamin, Assistant Treasurers; Richard Saker, Secretary, and Ned Gladstein, Nicholas Sumas, and Shawn Ravitz, Assistant Secretaries. Sheridan was also re-elected as President and COO, and Lane was re-elected as Executive Vice President.

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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.