Supermarkets don't need public financing or the efficiencies of operating a national network of stores in order to extend their operations into new markets, as evidenced by the five companies profiled in the following section.
tore construction at a time when many of the larger, publicly financed companies have had to rein in their growth strategies.
The companies profiled here fit an updated description of an "independent" food-retailing enterprise, defined by the National Grocers Association, Arlington, Va., as a privately owned or family-controlled chain with a strong community focus. For more on the evolving mission of NGA, which is hosting its annual convention this week in Las Vegas, see a Page 34 article based on an interview with Tom Zaucha, its president.
Each of the chains profiled in the following section -- Schnuck Markets, Save Mart, Publix, Bashas' and Price Chopper -- was selected from the SN Top 75 list of supermarket operators because of its recent growth in store count. Although the chains have some things in common, each of the five profiled is approaching expansion using different strategies.
In many instances, success for the independents profiled has followed the failure of other retailers.
Schnuck Markets, St. Louis, saw opportunity in the Quad Cities market in Iowa when Eagle Food Centers filed for bankruptcy last year and closed or sold all of its stores. Save Mart, Modesto, Calif., was able to expand its Food Maxx concept after Fleming went bankrupt and sold its Food 4 Less stores in Northern California. Likewise, Price Chopper, Schenectady, N.Y., has opened several stores in the Connecticut market by acquiring sites that previously belonged to discounters Kmart and Ames, both of which shed stores through bankruptcies.
The private ownership of these chains has helped them in their expansion efforts as they have relied largely on internally generated funds to grow their businesses.
Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla., has been able to bear the expense of building stores in new markets by virtue of the fact that it has no Wall Street investors to answer to when its profits start to lag, analysts pointed out. At Bashas' Markets, Chandler, Ariz., Wayne Manning, president, said being privately owned has allowed the company to enter new markets where other chains have been unwilling to venture.
Maintaining their core values and operating philosophies has been important to these chains as they have added new stores. At Bashas', retaining employees and devoting resources to training have been integral to the company's philosophy that has helped it grow successfully.
In addition, these chains have remained true to their roots as community-focused operators, despite the expansion into new markets.
For a closer look at another independent that has a strong community partnership, see the profile of Zagara's Markets on Pages 36 and 37.