PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway here plans to go chainwide by the end of the year with "Just for U," its online program offering consumers personalized pricing based on their shopping history, Steve Burd, chairman, president and chief executive officer, told shareholders at the company's annual meeting here Thursday.
The program has been available "in what you might call model 1.0," Burd said, in the chain's Hawaii stores last summer and in the Chicago and Northern California divisions since the fall. "Just for U 2.0 is already available in a small test market," he added.
Private label sales at Safeway outpaced national brand sales in the fourth quarter of 2010 by 520 basis points, Burd said, with most of the growth coming from four brands: Eating Right, up 30%; Waterfront Bistro, up 22%; Safeway Select, a 15-year-old brand, up 4%; and Signature Cafe, up 4%.
He said the company expects increased growth in its Refreshe line, which is expanding beyond water into carbonated soft drinks. He also said he expects strong sales from Snack Artists, a new line that features the first resealable snack packs, Burd noted.
In response to a question, he said it would take 25 Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores and 10 Target P-fresh sections to equal the impact of one supermarket within a mile of an existing Safeway.
Burd also told shareholders the company is raising its dividend slightly this year — to 21%, compared with 20% increases of the last few years — to an annualized level of 58 cents a share. All directors were reelected during the meeting.