David Shapira likes to keep his foot on the gas.
As the chief executive officer of Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, he has driven the privately owned, regional supermarket chain through a seemingly endless racecourse of innovations, including the development of one of the industry’s most notable gasoline marketing programs.
“They are innovators, and they are always trying to make sure they have the latest and greatest things in their stores,” said Tom Jackson, president of the Ohio Grocers Association.
Giant Eagle’s 223 locations, located primarily in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, generate about $7.1 billion annually. In addition to its flagship stores, it also operates a chain of convenience stores called GetGo and a more upscale format called Market District.
FuelPerks, which offers fuel discounts to customers who purchase groceries at its stores, is considered one of the industry’s leading retail gas programs. Earlier this year it rolled out FoodPerks, which incentivizes the reverse — customers can earn grocery discounts in exchange for fuel purchases.
“I think they have gained a lot of market share because of their gasoline program, because it is awfully good,” Jackson told SN.
In addition, he noted that Giant Eagle’s stores “are well-designed and well-merchandised.”
“They are pretty predictable,” he said. “You can count on a nice store and a nice experience any time you go into a Giant Eagle.”
Jackson related an anecdote that illustrates Shapira’s focus on staying in touch with his customers. When asked why he was using an iPhone instead of a BlackBerry, Shapira replied that although he liked his BlackBerry, he knew that many of his customers preferred the iPhone, and he wanted to make sure he was on top of what they were interested in.
“That shows the kind of thinking David has,” Jackson said.
David McCorkle, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, cited Shapira’s “dedication to continuous improvement” and “executive management skills” for building the success of Giant Eagle.
— Mark Hamstra