Abingdon, Virginia-based Food City was selected as The Shelby Report of the Southeast’s Retailer of the Year as a company that exemplifies leadership in merchandising, marketing, innovation and community service.
The company founded by Jack Smith back in 1955 started out, as most do, with one store, his in Grundy, Virginia. Unlike many, though, Smith’s company has thrived, today operating a chain of more than 130 stores in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and, most recently, Georgia, via its acquisition of 29 Chattanooga-area stores in 2015.
K-VA-T Food Stores/Food City has been in the capable hands of Jack’s son, Steve, since he became president in 1993 and CEO in 2001. He continues his father’s legacy in many ways, including maintaining a family atmosphere throughout the company; keeping stores up-to-date in facilities, technology and product offerings; growing through acquisition; and supporting communities across its operating area. As an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) entity, around 13 percent of K-VA-T/Food City is owned by its associates—which includes a healthy mix of those who started their careers with the company and those who joined from other companies.
Steve Smith, who has been on the national stage as chairman of the Food Marketing Institute in recent years, believes in hard work and having a passion for serving loyal Food City shoppers. It’s a formula that continues to make the grocery chain a success.
“In selecting the Retailer of the Year in each region, our editorial staff takes a look at 20 to 25 grocers, chain and independent, who demonstrate signature leadership, innovation and customer service throughout their operation, and especially in growing their banner, whether adding new stores within the market or expanding their geographic sphere through acquisition,” says Ron Johnston, president and publisher of Shelby Publishing Co./The Shelby Report. “Food City’s purchase of 29 former Bi-Lo stores in Chattanooga and northwest Georgia was certainly key.”
Find a Shelby Report special about Food City below. The section also appears in the December 2016 print edition of The Shelby Report of the Southeast. Johnston presented Smith with a special edition and an award at the new St. Elmo Food City, located at 3801 Tennessee Avenue in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Nov. 18. Photos of that store, managed by Cary Anselment, also appear below.