- Weis Markets will spend $101 million to build new stores and make chainwide improvements, the company announced at its annual shareholders meeting last week. This is a slight increase over last year’s $90 million cap ex budget, with tax reform ushered in by the Trump administration fueling this year’s spending, the company noted.
- Specifically, Weis plans to open two new stores, remodel 20 locations, build a new fuel center and four new pharmacies. It also plans to spend money on employee training and development.
- Weis plans to trial home delivery this year, and will continue expanding its click-and-collect service, which is now offered at 79 stores.
In an interview with a Pennsylvania newspaper last year, Weis Markets CEO Jonathan Weis admitted, “We are sort of a middle-of-the-road supermarket.”
This was a candid assessment from a conventional retailer going up against a slew of industry heavyweights, including Walmart and a couple Ahold Delhaize banners. But it was meant to underscore the company’s fierce determination to grow and evolve.
"We have to be on trend,” he said. “We want to be interesting, not boring or dull. We just have a philosophy that we're not going to be afraid to fail."
That mindset has put Weis on a steep growth trajectory in recent years. In 2016, it expanded its store count 20% by acquiring stores from Food Lion and Mars Foods. Last year, it opened a few new stores and remodeled 14. It also unveiled an upscale concept store in Enola, Penn., that offered an expanded lineup of specialty products and service stations like a yogurt bar and ice cream parlor.
Weis’s ambitions have taken it to the Mid-Atlantic region, where it has grown to more than 30 stores. At a recent opening near Baltimore, Kurt Schertle, the company’s chief operating officer, said, “We are a Pennsylvania company, but Maryland is our number two state, and now firmly our number two state in terms of stores, and our number one state by far in growth percentage.”
Competition in the Mid-Atlantic is red-hot, but Weis has honed in on a few key markets, including the Baltimore County area. Its evolving assortment and services should help it stand out from the crowd: In addition to its store remodels and e-commerce growth, Weis recently upgraded its loyalty program to offer more discounts on private label products.
Weis’s strategy is paying off so far, with 15 straight quarters of same-store sales growth. As larger competitors continue to turn up the heat on pricing, assortment and online shopping, it will be interesting to see if Weis’s successful run can continue.