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Retailer of the Year West

Products Are Star, Price Is Hero At New-Look FoodMaxx

FoodMaxx

FoodMaxx is The Save Mart Companies banner that is committed to everyday low prices across the store, particularly those items customers buy most, such as milk, eggs, bread, diapers, produce and fresh meat.

According to the company’s website, the store commits to the following principles in order to achieve this mission: 

  • Everything is designed to save customers money. This is possible by buying in bulk and stocking shelves right off the truck. Customers help by bagging their own groceries.
  • Efficiency, speed and simplicity. From the front door to the back dock, FoodMaxx keeps its overhead MAXXlow. So, it’s easier for the grocer to stock and easier for customers to shop.
  • The banner uses its buying power as one of the West’s largest independent grocers to go after the lowest price. 
  • It checks hundreds of prices each week so customers don’t have to.
  • Being a local, regional company, living alongside farmers and ranchers, allows the delivery of fresh, quality products at low prices.

Company executives recently led Bob Reeves of The Shelby Report on a tour of the FoodMaxx in Lodi, California, which also is a new concept store. 

Upon entering, new and returning customers will see why FoodMaxx is known for its wall of value.

Food Maxx
Dean Willhite

“They’re going to see the stuff that we buy by the pallet. [This is] going to give you the best cost of goods that we can pass on to the customers. It gives us our best prices out there,” said Dean Willhite, VP of operations for FoodMaxx.

According to Willhite, the products are the star, but the price is the hero. And as a value operator, FoodMaxx is in a competitive space.

“The owner operator advantage of how FoodMaxx operates is that the store managers are ­empowered to win on price,” said Rebecca Calvin, chief merchandising officer. 

FoodMaxx purchases products by the truckload directly from suppliers. “We can cut out the middleman and get the lowest cost of goods so we can get the best price to the customer,” Willhite said. “Everything we do is from a labor efficiency perspective.”

Throughout the stores, customers will see case and pallet stockings.

“Ninety percent of what we do…it’s all by the pallet. It comes in by the pallet…we put it out there – more labor efficiency – and pass that on to the consumer. That’s what we do,” Willhite said. 

SKU assortment is an area of innovation as well, as FoodMaxx focuses on products that customers want and buy the most. 

“The way we can do that is that we can pallet stock and we can case stock everything for the ­efficiency, and you’re in stock for that customer that wants to buy the things that you buy most,” Willhite said. “We have a really good variety. But we slimmed it down to make sure that if you look at pizza, you look at different things where we can case stock.”

The value can be seen in the meat department as well. “Our volume is really strong over here,” Willhite said. 

Along with this, customers can find prices as low as $2.19 for skinless chicken breast. One can also consider a price deal on two rotisserie chickens for $11 or a T-bone steak for $5.99.

Protein value can also come in different packages, with one in particular that has four different meal-starting options with a $25 price point.

“When you talk about first-of-the-month traffic and meal planning, think about the shopper for FoodMaxx. That value shopper is looking for a way to save. Obviously, they’re on a budget,” Calvin explained.

“So this plans out the week or longer than a week for them because they can feed a lot of people out of that box. But the magic of a $25 price point for four really nice packages of meal-starting protein is important. The basket that goes along with that is critical for us.”

FoodMaxx

“It is not a margin builder for us by any means, but the basket that it builds. We have the luxury of cross-merchandising with that item. We put in side dishes, vegetables, condiments, to help build the basket.”

Scott Bourbon, senior director of sales and merchandising at FoodMaxx, addressed how his team interfaces with vendors. 

“Globally, my team does specific negotiations, promotional planning [and] annual planning with supplier partners,” Bourbon said. “We do bring on unique suppliers for items or categories that make sense for the value banner FoodMaxx that may not make sense for the Save Mart or Lucky banner. 

“We do some creative negotiations on the FoodMaxx side to whether it’s how we get product to stores, whether it’s direct store delivery. And we are very ethnic driven on our selections as well…even though we have a limited assortment, we have an expansive assortment that we limit to the top selling items. We carry several items that the total company doesn’t carry.”

Bourbon’s role was established to differentiate FoodMaxx from the conventional banners. 

“We have a unique customer compared to conventional [grocery]. Our job was really to leverage the enterprise power, but tailoring it specific to FoodMaxx – whether it’s where we put our funding for cost of goods, whether it’s how we land product, to the items we promote and to our assortment to quality specs.”

Operating in diverse communities, Bourbon understands that many families will have different reasons for saving money on groceries. 

“Some people have a limited budget for food and there’s other people that just want to stretch their money,” he said. “They don’t want to pay more for the same item and FoodMaxx offers that…we have quality foods at incredible prices. It’s more than just a business and doing great and hitting our numbers. We provide a service to our community.”

For more information, visit thesavemartcompanies.com.

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

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Point Loma Community
Huntington Beach, California
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