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Retailer of the Year West

Cornerstones Of Communication, Connections And Cohesion

Save Mart
From left to right: Rebecca Calvin, Hal Levitt and Chris McGarry, CEO

Headquartered in the heart of California’s Central Valley, The Save Mart Companies serves more than 200 communities across the state and neighboring Nevada. The company has been in business for 70 years with Save Mart, Lucky, Lucky California, FoodMaxx and Maxx Value Food stores, distribution centers and a transportation facility employing more than 14,000 team members.

“I think the interesting thing about the Central Valley and the greater Sacramento area – and all the areas we operate in – is there’s a lot of people who did not grow up here,” said George Ross, VP of operations for Save Mart. “You have a very diverse shopping environment, you have a lot of different flavors, a lot of different tastes.” 

While the area boasts a high Hispanic population, there also is growth in predominately Asian and Middle Eastern communities, he said. 

“More and more people are moving here. This is an area that as you look at California as a whole, is affordable. People can afford to live here and live well. We want to appeal to all of those tastes with our offerings in our environments,” Ross said.  

He went on to tout the company’s history with local farmers, particularly since it operates in a major agricultural location.

“[The Valley] produces a ton of the nation’s crops, so we have great relationships,” Ross said. “We can go from a field to shelf in a day. Not many of our competitors can do that. I think that really helps us establish ourselves with our guests. They know they’re getting the freshest, highest quality product.” 

Hal Levitt, SVP of retail operations and supply chain for The Save Mart Companies, is grateful for many aspects of the company. However, its people-first mindset is at
the top. 

“We do what’s right by our team members and our customers. And I think we have that mindset of staying with that single point of focus. It can be from anybody in this organization,” Levitt said. 

The communication flows from frontline employees to store managers and all the way to Chris McGarry, CEO. 

“We are very connected to our people, which keeps us connected to our customers,” Levitt said. “I think that’s probably one of the most important things that we do as a company.”

Levitt, who has worked in the grocery industry since age 16, sees The Save Mart Companies as an organization that stays close to its core and can make adjustments. 

“Coming through a lot of different organizations and being on the frontline for most of my career, I would always sit back and wonder why we are changing direction so frequently,” he said. “It’s very confusing for the frontline teams when a company’s direction changes, whether it’s on merchandising or marketing.

“[But] we stay true to what we say. We do that year over year. We have long-term plans, we stay true. And then if we find that something in our plan is not right, we pivot, we adjust and take the right direction.”

Rebecca Calvin, chief merchandising officer, pointed to the alignment of the executive team and Save Mart’s nimble response time. 

“The cohesion of the executive team is something I’ve never seen before,” she said. “Even as I worked my way up through the ranks, I’ve always been lucky to have exposure to the leadership team. But this team, we’re in lockstep. We’re aligned, we make decisions together.

“[McGarry] is a very collaborative leader, he holds everyone accountable, but also fully supports the good and the bad of what happens. We all run at the same pace, which is fast. I always joke about proverbial running shoes or sprinting shoes, depending on what day of the week it is. I think the secret of our recent success is how aligned the leadership team is.”

For more information, visit thesavemartcompanies.com.

To read the full Retailer of the Year flip book on The Save Mart Companies by The Shelby Report, click here.

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