Wakefern Food Corp. Chairman and CEO Joseph S. Colalillo, President and COO Joe Sheridan and EVP Chris Lane addressed shareholders, store management and staff at the company’s annual shareholder meeting Oct. 25 in East Brunswick, New Jersey.
The company reported record retail sales of $16.5 billion for the 52-week fiscal year ended Sept. 29, 2018, a 1.6 percent increase from the prior year. The largest retailer-owned cooperative in the U.S., Wakefern opened four new ShopRite stores and two Price Rite Marketplace stores during the 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, from Wakefern’s board of directors and the addition of Tom Cingari, a partner in Connecticut’s Grade A Market.
“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.”
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 the company 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.
Lane reported on efforts to enhance retail operations through targeted rebranding efforts and a focus on private-label brands. He 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 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 re-elected to the board of directors at the meeting include: Colalillo, chairman; 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 also was re-elected president and COO, and Lane was re-elected VP.
Founded in 1946, Wakefern Food Corp. comprises 50 members who today independently own and operate 352 supermarkets under the ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite Marketplace and Dearborn Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Virginia. Together with its member companies, Wakefern employs more than 70,000 people.