SUNBURY, Pa. -- Weis Markets here has pledged $105 million in capital expenditures this year, to cover opening eight or nine new stores and remodeling or enlarging about 10 stores.
All stores built in the coming year will be in Weis's new format -- the superstore -- which emphasizes customer service and prepared foods. The new stores will average 50,000 to 60,000 square feet, Norman S. Rich, Weis president, told SN. Previously, stores were built in the 40,000- to 45,000-square-foot range.
Rich declined to name any specific locations for the new stores. However, during the company's annual meeting here recently, he said Weis plans to expand into new areas within Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey, where it already operates 150 stores.
"We have an aggressive program set for this year and into 1996," Rich said. "We want to be a growth-oriented company and we are actively looking at new real estate sites as well as acquisitions."
Rich said recently opened stores feature a cappuccino bar, floral shop, natural foods center and bank, in addition to the standard deli and food-service departments, pharmacy, scratch bakery and seafood counter.
In addition to expansion, Rich addressed other issues at the meeting:
A direct store delivery program is being implemented chainwide, meaning that 25% to 30% of all grocery products will be delivered directly to individual units. This is expected to lead to significant labor savings.
The SuperPetz chain in which Weis owns a large stake has grown to 14 stores, up from three last year. Further expansion is planned.
The private-label program has grown to encompass almost 2,000 items, which Rich said was larger than any regional competitor's program.
More than $7 million worth of company stock was repurchased.
Increased competition, low food inflation and slow population growth will combine to make 1995 a difficult year for the company, said Robert F. Weis, chairman and treasurer of Weis Markets, at the meeting. But Weis added that the company is "confident [it] can meet the challenge and that Weis Markets will continue to grow and prosper."