DAYTON, Ohio -- Curious industry eyes will be watching Weis Markets' new alliance with Superpetz Pet Food Superstore here.
Weis, Sunbury, Pa., acquired 80% ownership of the four-unit pet supply store at the end of last year and, to date, has taken an investor position, said Lee Schear, Superpetz' president.
"We knew we had a hot concept and we thought it would be easier to expand the concept with people who spoke the same language, who understood the supermarket disciplines and supermarket buying," said Schear.
"Weis will use their executive talents and vast experience to give us feedback on operations," he explained, "but the day-to-day operations are still in Dayton, Ohio, underneath my aegis."
While Weis officials declined to comment on the new partnership, clearly its investment will go a long way in helping Schear expand the company. In fact, Superpetz -- which opened its fourth store last month -- will soon cut the ribbon on two additional units now under construction.
Weis will have a Superpetz to play with in its backyard as well. "We hope to be in central Pennsylvania this summer," said Schear.
"You've got to give Weis a lot of credit," he continued. "I think they saw a natural fit. This is an investment for the future for them, and what we were missing is a little fine-tuning and some capital resources, and they had that."
Analysts contacted by SN could not give a definitive answer as to whether the Weis-Superpetz alliance is a good one. However, given Weis' track record and retailing savvy, they said, the situation certainly bears watching and, more than likely, will be a fruitful partnership for Weis.
Schear noted super pet stores are an "unmistakable trend. Weis has always been good at taking trends and making money out of them. So I think they see this as a way to learn more about pet foods and also invest in the hottest part of the trend, which is the pet food superstores."