Weis Markets

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Weis Markets, Inc.
TypePublic
Traded asNYSEWMK
IndustryRetail grocery
Founded1912 (Sunbury, Pennsylvania) by Harry and Sigmund Weis
HeadquartersSunbury, Pennsylvania
Number of locations162
Key peopleRobert Weis, Chairman, Jonathan Weis, Vice Chairman, David Hepfinger, President and CEO
Websitewww.weismarkets.com
 
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Weis Markets, Inc.
TypePublic
Traded asNYSEWMK
IndustryRetail grocery
Founded1912 (Sunbury, Pennsylvania) by Harry and Sigmund Weis
HeadquartersSunbury, Pennsylvania
Number of locations162
Key peopleRobert Weis, Chairman, Jonathan Weis, Vice Chairman, David Hepfinger, President and CEO
Websitewww.weismarkets.com

Weis Markets, Inc. is a chain of supermarkets based in Sunbury, Pennsylvania,[1] with a presence in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Maryland. In 2012, it operates 162 stores in five states.

Contents

History

Map of Weis stores.

Weis Markets was founded as Weis Pure Foods in 1912 in Sunbury, Pennsylvania by two brothers, Harry and Sigmund Weis. Their store has been noted as "revolutionary", as it did not operate on credit—sales were only for cash. At the time, similar stores operated on credit, allowing customers to build a tab that would be paid periodically. Cash sales were a sign of a growing working class earning steady paychecks—and they also helped lower prices by up to 25%.

The second Weis store opened in 1915 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Harrisburg would remain an important market for Weis, helping to anchor the central Pennsylvania region that Weis would dominate for decades.

A Weis supermarket in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania.

The Weis brothers expanded their chain rapidly, opening dozens of small, in-town grocery stores throughout central Pennsylvania. Their chain peaked at 115 stores in 15 central Pennsylvania counties by 1933. At the time, the modern self-service supermarket was coming into its own. The format was pitted against the traditional model, followed by Weis Pure Foods, in which customers gave their orders to a clerk who would retrieve the requested items. As the modern supermarket model began to take hold, the Weis brothers began to adapt. They closed several corner grocery stores in Harrisburg in 1938, replacing them with their first self-service, consolidated supermarket, which they dubbed the Weis Super Market. Over the next two decades, the company continued with this strategy, and it had consolidated all of its corner grocery stores into supermarkets—35 in total—by 1955.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Weis Markets (as it was known by then) expanded out of its familiar territory, first reaching York and then Lancaster by 1960. The company expanded into adjacent states in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. In 1967, the company ventured outside of Pennsylvania for the first time. It opened stores in Hagerstown and Frederick, Maryland, and it also purchased the six-store Albany Public Markets chain based in Albany, New York. Those expansions brought the company to a total of 65 stores. To the west, it expanded to western Pennsylvania, reaching as far west as Altoona and Philipsburg, but has since made no efforts to expand farther west. Weis would later shutter the Albany Public Markets chain. A couple were later occupied by Grand Union. Weis bought at least one former Kings location when the company went out in 1984.

Weis's territorial expansions came with mixed results. A company with rural, central Pennsylvania roots, it was able to expand into the Baltimore, Maryland, region with great success, taking on such established players as Giant (Landover) and Safeway. The company expanded further in Maryland toward Washington, D.C. and Virginia, with much less success. The Woodbridge, Virginia store (#125) was picketed by union members. It retreated from that market, first closing most of its stores in Montgomery County, Maryland, and finally closing its Woodbridge, Virginia (#125) and Manassas, Virginia (#136) stores. By 2006, no stores were left in Virginia. Weis' foray into New Jersey came with mixed results as well, as it was forced to close a new store in Flanders in 2002—only two years after opening it. The three stores currently in New Jersey continue to face stiff competition from Ahold owned Stop & Shop, the ShopRite cooperative, and, to a lesser extent, A&P.

Today, Weis thrives in the rural areas, small towns, and third class cities of northeastern, central, and southern Pennsylvania. It has successfully expanded to the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre markets, and to the Altoona-State College area, but it has been shown less interest in the suburban counties surrounding Philadelphia (though there are a few locations) and Pittsburgh.

Most recently, Weis Markets is participating in an in-store digital advertising network. 2012 marked the supermarket's 100th Anniversary. [2]

In the late spring of 2012, the company acquired three former Genuardi's stores from Safeway and reopened the units, which are located in Conshohocken, Doylestown and Norristown, on June 16. It also announced the acquisition of a former store site in Towson, Maryland, which it plans to open in late 2012. It has also acquired its first Central New Jersey store site in Hillsborough, which it plans to open in 2013.

Banners

In addition to the Weis Markets banner, the company once operated supermarkets under the King's and Mr. Z's banners. Those two banners were centered primarily in the Poconos and Lehigh Valley and were acquired in mid-1990s acquisitions. Since their acquisitions, these stores have been remodeled or replaced. In 2009, they were rebranded to the Weis banner, as was its Cressler's store in Shippensburg. In 2011, it converted its three Scot's Lo-Cost stores, located in Montoursville, Mill Hall and Coal Township, to the Weis banner.

Weis operates some stores as Save-a-Lot under license from Supervalu. At one time, the company operated a few stores as Big-Top Market, but as of 2006, no more stores exist under this banner.


Competition

Weis faces significant competition from various food retail formats, including conventional retailers, mass merchant retailers, discount retailers, drug stores, convenience stores, and dollar stores. Weis's chief competition comes in its traditional home base of central Pennsylvania. Giant (Carlisle), a supermarket chain owned by Ahold, began aggressive expansion during the 1990s, building newer, larger stores with vast selections. The expansion caught Weis off-guard. While Weis was able to kick into gear with an expansion project of its own, it has not yet fully recovered. Giant still remains the market leader throughout central and northeastern Pennsylvania.

Weis also faces tough competition in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania from Stauffer's of Kissel Hill.

In Maryland, Weis competes with Walmart, Acme, Giant Eagle, Food Lion, Safeway, and Giant (Landover).

In New Jersey, Weis's chief competition includes A&P, Giant-Carlisle's sister chain, Stop & Shop, and ShopRite.

In New York, Weis competition includes Wegmans, and Price Chopper.

In 2011, it sold or closed its remaining Superpetz units, a move that is expected to enhance the company's overall profitability.

Private Brand Labels

Weis Markets sells a variety of house brands under the following private brand labels:

Corporate officers

Supreme Court Case

The Weis supermarket located in Park Hills Plaza along U.S. Route 220 in Altoona, Pennsylvania was the subject of a key 1960s United States Supreme Court case concerning the "public forum doctrine." The Court held that a union picket in the supermarket parcel pickup area and parking lot was permissible because the "shopping center here is clearly the functional equivalent to the business district" of a city. Amalgamated Food Employees Union v. Logan Valley Plaza, Inc., 391 U.S. 308 (1968). At the time of the picketing, the Weis store was located in Logan Valley Mall, the Park Hills Plaza was not built until the mid 70s, at which time Weis move across US Route 220 to its current location.

Beer Sales

Weis Markets is one of the supermarkets in Pennsylvania able to sell beer in in-store cafes at some of its locations. In Pennsylvania, grocery stores cannot sell beer unless they operate a cafe. As of February, 2012 Weis sells beer at 12 locations.

References

  1. ^ "Contact Us." (Archive) Weis Markets. Retrieved on May 7, 2012. "1000 South Second Street PO Box 471 Sunbury, Pennsylvania 17801"
  2. ^ Weis Markets Digital Signage Information

External links