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August 20, 2019Cart

Business

by Fairfield County Business Journal
by FCBJ

Price Rite updating area grocery stores to stay competitive

Price Rite Marketplace is rebranding several of its Connecticut stores, including its locations in Bridgeport and Danbury, to make them easier to navigate and to better compete with other grocery chains.

“We thought it was the perfect time to take what we do best and make it even better,” said Jim Dorey, who was promoted to president at the Keasbey, New Jersey-based chain in November.

Jim Dorey of Price Rite.

Dorey said the chain prides itself on providing natural and organic options for customers, as well as a balance of nationally recognized brands and private-label foods. The latter include Price Rite’s own Wholesome Pantry line of freeform and organic products, unveiled in 2016, and the new Price Rite Marketplace store brand, which encompasses over 500 products.

The remodeling of the interiors of the stores was completed in mid-January, “and as with all our remodels, the store stayed open so as not to inconvenience our customers,” Dorey said. “The team is working to finalize the exterior and we hope to have the outside finished as soon as possible.”

Cosmetic changes inside the stores — Bridgeport’s 4425 Main St. and 164 Boston Ave., and Danbury’s 29 Main St. — include a centerpiece produce department, while its seafood, dairy, frozen food and baked goods departments have also been given a facelift. The transition introduces a “fresh, updated” logo, and a cleaner, more modern backdrop design of whitewashed wood throughout the stores, coupled with what Dorey describes as a “carefully curated selection of products.”

Price Rite Marketplace operates 65 grocery stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maryland and Virginia.

It is a division of Wakefern Food Corp., a retailer-owned cooperative that is the largest supermarket cooperative in the U.S.; its other holdings include the 337-store ShopRite chain.

Wakefern reported record retail sales of $16.3 billion for the 52-week fiscal year ending Sept. 30, a 1.5 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

While that places it ahead of competitor Whole Food Markets, which reported full-year revenue of $16.03 billion, Wakefern is still well behind larger rivals like Publix ($34 billion for fiscal 2016; $8.5 billion for third-quarter 2017), Albertsons ($59.7 billion for fiscal 2016; $13.6 billion for third-quarter 2017) and Kroger ($115.3 billion for fiscal 2016; $27.7 billion for third-quarter 2017).

Mergers are of course playing a part in the industry. While Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market last year made the biggest splash, Albertsons effectively doubled in size when it merged in 2015 with Safeway Inc. for $9.2 billion; it recently signed a merger agreement with drugstore chain Rite Aid Corp. that, if approved, would result in an estimated $83 billion in revenues this year.

Price Rite and Wakefern aren’t expected to make any such deals, at least in the near term, but the redesign is clearly a move toward building its brand presence. It also recently began accepting manufacturers’ coupons, reversing a longstanding policy, and partnered with on-demand grocery delivery service Instacart to remain competitive.

“We believe this fresh new look and logo better represent what our marketplace is all about,” Dorey said. “We have a deep belief in service and selection and the new store design reflects that.”

Customer feedback to date has been “phenomenal,” he said. “Our customers love the new look, layout and feel of the redesigned stores, and they appreciate the incredible values we deliver each day. Our mission is to save families money while providing the right mix of brands, products, price, and service.”