Weis Markets plans to invest $109 million in its growth during 2019, according to company chairman and CEO Jonathan Weis. The chief executives made his remarks on April 25 at the Sunbury, PA-based regional retailer’s annual shareholders meeting held at its headquarters. The 2019 cap-ex plan includes new stores, remodels, supply chain improvements and continued information technology upgrades.
“As part of our company’s commitment to long-term growth, we will invest roughly $109 million in our store base and support areas,” Weis stated. “This includes a new store in Bedminster, PA, as well as 14 store remodels, six fuel centers, supply chain and information technology investments.”
The 51 year old Weis said his company’s sales increased to a record $3.5 billion in 2018, with comparable store sales having increased in 18 of the past 19 quarters. The company’s income from operations also increased by 9.4 percent year over year.
He attributed Weis Markets’ progress to its store base and information technology investments. He also said its sales and operating income benefited from targeted holiday promotions through its loyalty marketing program, price optimization improvements and more efficient store-level inventory management.
At the meeting, Weis updated shareholders on the company’s e-commerce initiatives and the expansion of its “Weis 2 Go Curbside Pick-Up Service.”
“Our e-commerce investments helped generate a 33.2 percent increase in our online sales,” said Weis. “Today, we offer online ordering with curbside pickup in 125 stores while 174 of our stores offer home delivery via Shipt, a leading online delivery service. Online ordering is a growing segment of our business that we expect to grow exponentially in the coming years.”
Weis also said the company is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its award-winning sustainability program, which is designed to minimize its overall impact on the environment.
“Over the past 10 years, our team has made considerable progress with our sustainability program, far exceeding our initial expectations,” Weis said. “In 2015, we met our 2020 goal of reducing our total carbon emissions by 20 percent compared to 2008, five years ahead of schedule; we look forward to building on our progress in the years ahead.”
A little more than a week later, Weis released its first quarter financials for the 13-week period ended March 30. Overall sales increased 0.1 percent to $876.7 million compared to the same period in 2018, while first quarter comparable store sales, adjusted for the holiday shift, increased 1.4 percent.
Weis said its first quarter sales benefited from the Easter holiday shift, since the Easter sales week fell on the last week of last year’s first quarter and the slow selling week afterwards fell in the second quarter last year. This year both weeks will fall in the second quarter. Management estimates the incremental holiday sales impact for comparative purposes was approximately $9.7 million and has excluded it from the 2018 comparable store sales total.
The company’s first quarter net income declined 11.7 percent to $14.3 million compared to $16.2 million in 2018, while earnings per share totaled $0.53 compared to $0.60 per share for the same period in 2018.
Weis attributed its first quarter revenue and comparable store sales increases to the launch of its “Low, Low Price” program which offers price reductions on 7,000 private brand items, an increased number of winter weather events compared to 2018 and the expansion of its “Weis 2 Go” online ordering service with in-store pick-up and home delivery.
During the quarter, the company said its gross profit rates were impacted by declining retails and costs in fuel as well as produce and dairy commodities. Pharmacy gross profits were negatively affected by recent changes in industry practices.