Fresh Grocer to join Shop Rite supplier Wakefern

The Fresh Grocer in University City is one of seven stores that will retain the chain's name after it joins Wakefern Food Corp.
The Fresh Grocer in University City is one of seven stores that will retain the chain's name after it joins Wakefern Food Corp. (File photograph)
Posted: August 02, 2013

The Fresh Grocer chain of supermarkets will join Wakefern Food Corp., a retailer-owned cooperative that supplies Shop Rite supermarkets, Wakefern announced Wednesday.

Fresh Grocer cofounder Patrick Burns will continue to own the chain's eight stores, which are primarily in the Philadelphia region, while Wakefern will own the Fresh Grocer name.

The Fresh Grocer store in Drexel Hill will become a Shop Rite next month, but the others will retain the Fresh Grocer banner.

"I've always from afar admired the Wakefern-Shop Rite operation," Burns said. "I've seen them grow over the years from 5 and 6 in the market to No. 1."

Shop Rite fell to second in local market share after Giant Food Stores bought 16 Genuardi's stores last year, according to Food Trade News.

With $165.6 million in sales, Fresh Grocer did not rank among the top 20 food retailers in the eight-county Philadelphia region, according to the 2013 market-share report by Food Trade News.

"Adding the strength of the Fresh Grocer brand and its unique offering will help us to continue our growth in the Philadelphia marketplace," said Joe Sheridan, president and chief operating officer of Wakefern, which is based in Keasbey, N.J., and supplies nearly 250 supermarkets.

Fresh Grocer locations near universities, such as the University of Pennsylvania and Temple, were attractive to Wakefern, Sheridan said.

They "will give us new insight into the next generation of consumers and will expand our reach to a new customer," he said.

Burns said that joining the Wakefern cooperative will allow Fresh Grocer to be more competitive than it could be with a distributor.

"When you're a co-op member, you can be the best pricing in the market," he said.

Fresh Grocer, founded in 1995 and employing 1,500, has six stores in the Philadelphia area and one each in Wilmington and New Brunswick, N.J., near the Rutgers University campus.

The Fresh Grocer brand eventually could be used throughout the Wakefern footprint, which stretches from Connecticut to Maryland, but there are no immediate plans for that, a Wakefern official said.

Richard George, a professor of food marketing at St. Joseph's University, said the deal was a great move for both parties.

"I think the nice thing about it is they're keeping the Fresh Grocer banner, with one exception," George said. "It has a nice niche."


Contact Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or hbrubaker@phillynews.com.

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