Giant Eagle

Giant Eagle

Giant Eagle, Inc., is an American supermarket chain with stores located in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland. Giant Eagle was founded in 1918 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Supermarket News ranked Giant Eagle No. 21 in the 2008 "Top 75 North American Food Retailers" based on 2007 fiscal year estimated sales of $7.1 billion. In 2005, it was the 32nd largest privately held corporation, as determined by Forbes. Based on 2005 revenue, Giant Eagle is the forty-ninth largest retailer in the United States. As of September 2007, the company had 156 company-owned and 69 franchised stores. The company also operates 128 fuel station/convenience stores under the GetGo banner.

The company operates its corporate headquarters in a suburban Pittsburgh office park in O'Hara Township, Pennsylvania.

History

Eagle Grocery was founded by the families of Goldstein/Shapira, Porter, and Chait in 1918 in Pittsburgh. In 1928, the families sold the Eagle Grocery company to the Kroger Company. In 1931, however, the families regained ownership of the Eagle Grocery stores and combined with the Moravitz and Weizenbaum families' OK Grocery chain to form Giant Eagle. The chain continued to prosper even through the 1930s and 1940s, an era of poverty and war. In the 1950s, the average size of a Giant Eagle grocery store was 15,000 ft².

The chain entered Ohio in the 1980s, reaching Cleveland in the 1990s, by acquiring the Stop N Shop stores in the area. Stop N Shop stores were family owned and operated in different areas of Cleveland. For an example if a person lived in Parma, Ohio, they shopped at Rini/Rego, if a person lived in Garfield Heights, Ohio, they shopped at Reiders. The family operators of Stop N Shop formed a holding company named International Seaway Foods as the main umbrella for Stop N Shop. In 1998, Giant Eagle acquired the International Seaway Foods and converted the Stop N Shop Stores into Giant Eagle Stores. Giant Eagle also purchased or opened other Northeast Ohio stores outside the Stop N Shop area, such as the former Apples supermarkets in the nearby Akron, Ohio area.

The company entered the Toledo, Ohio, market by opening two stores in the area in 2001 and 2004. Giant Eagle emerged as one of the dominant supermarket chains in Northeast Ohio, competing mainly against the New York-based Tops, of which it purchased 18 stores in October 2006. The purchases came as Tops exited the Northeast Ohio area.

Giant Eagle purchased independently-owned County Market stores, giving it a replacement store in Somerset, Penn.; a new store in Johnstown, Penn.; and its first Maryland stores: one in Cumberland, one in Hagerstown, and two in Frederick. The Cumberland store closed in December 2003, and the Hagerstown store closed in August 2005.

Giant Eagle has aggressively expanded its footprint in the Greater Columbus area, capitalizing on the demise of the former Big Bear supermarket chain and taking Big Bear's traditional place as Columbus' upmarket grocer. Giant Eagle first entered what it calls its "Columbus Region" in late 2000, opening three large newly-built stores at Sawmill and Bethel Rd., Lewis Center, and Dublin-Granville Rd. with two more following in 2002 and 2003 at Gahanna and Hilliard-Rome Rd. In 2004, Giant Eagle purchased nine former Big Bear stores in Columbus, Newark and Marietta from parent company Penn Traffic. Giant Eagle has since expanded to several additional locations, acquiring other abandoned Big Bear stores and in newly-constructed buildings using the current Giant Eagle prototype. Giant Eagle opened its 20th Columbus-area at New Albany Road at the Ohio Rt. 161 freeway (New Albany) in August, 2007, its 21st area store at Hayden Run and Cosgray Roads (Dublin) in November, 2007, its 22nd area store at Stelzer and McCutcheon Roads (Columbus) in July, 2008 and its 23rd area store at South Hamilton Road and Winchester Pike (Groveport) in August, 2008. A new Giant Eagle is currently under construction in Lancaster, Ohio and the former Big Bear located at Blacklick Crossing is undergoing an expansion and remodeling.

Giant Eagle has the highest share of any supermarket chain in the Pittsburgh area, largely due to being a de-facto monopoly in the region (only Aldi and stores supplied by Supervalu such as Shop 'n Save, FoodLand, and Save-A-Lot even have a presence in the area, let alone significant market share), but has lost some market share in recent years due to Wal-Mart's construction of supercenters in the area. The company was also rumored to be considering a relationship with regional department/grocery store chain Meijer in an attempt to expand in the Midwest.

Loyalty program

Like many grocery chains, Giant Eagle ran a trading stamp program, which it named "Profit Sharing Blue Stamps." This program led to a strong sales growth for some time. In the 1960s, Giant Eagle eliminated the program to focus on a simple low-price strategy; and as a result, in the 1970s the company advertised a pledge that it offered the lowest prices of all the grocery stores. In 1995, Giant Eagle introduced the "Advantage Card", an electronic loyalty card discount system (already popular in many chains), as a sophisticated version of the obsolete stamp programs. The card was later modified to double as a video rental card for Iggle Video. More recently the company has started the FUELPERKS! program to incite customers. This program allows customer the opportunity to earn 10 cents off each gallon of gas (20 cents in select markets) with fifty dollars worth of authorized purchases. This program has become widely popular in many markets, and helps to moderate price comparison shopping.

Operations

There are 225 store and Get Go locations in the United States: 99 in Western Pennsylvania, 122 in Central, Northeast and Eastern Ohio, 2 in Morgantown, West Virginia, and 2 in Frederick, Maryland. Each store carries between 22,000 and 60,000 items, approximately 5,000 of which are manufactured by Giant Eagle.

Giant Eagle offers over twenty-four different departments across its stores. The range of services includes Iggle Video (a store for renting videos, DVDs, and video games, though this is currently being phased out, and Red Box video terminals are replacing it), dry cleaning, banks such as Citizens Bank (in Pennsylvania, mostly former Mellon Bank branches) and US Bank (in Ohio, due to Tops having a separate contract with Charter One that predated Citizen's acquisition of that bank in 2004; it is not known if Ohio stores will switch to Charter One now that Tops has since closed all of their remaining Ohio stores not sold to Giant Eagle), in-store day care, and pharmacies.

The chain has built large prototypes, and it has experimented with many departments unusual to supermarkets. Larger stores feature vast selections of ethnic and organic food, dry cleaning services, Iggle video, drive-thru pharmacies, in-store banking, Eagle's Nest (for daycare purposes while shopping), as well as in-store coffee shops and prepared foods. Prepared foods are also sold at larger GetGo locations that can accommodate a GetGo Kitchen.

Giant Eagle has rebranded two of its stores as Market District, an attempt to woo upscale shoppers. The two stores are located in the upscale communities of Shadyside in Pittsburgh and Bethel Park in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The stores offer free Wi-Fi, Churrasco-style foods, a kosher deli, a smoothie bar and other options not offered at other Giant Eagle locations. Despite the wording of the one report, the Giant Eagle name is still evident on the logos for the rebranded stores.

A third Market District store is now under construction in the Pittsburgh suburb of Robinson. The store will be part of the new Settlers Ridge development and will be the largest to date at 150,000 square feet. There is some speculation that the format with this store may resemble more of a supercenter as compared to the previous Market District stores focusing solely on upscale food items. It is expected to open in the summer of 2009 and will replace the existing 95,000 square foot Giant Eagle store across from Robinson Town Center.

Pharmacy

Giant Eagle began adding pharmacies to their stores in the 1980s along with other "store-within-a-store" concepts photo, floral and video rental. In 2006, Giant Eagle attracted much attention when it became the first pharmacy in the region to offer over 300 (currently over 400) generic prescription medications for $4 with the store's advantage card. As of June 2008, Giant Eagle has updated the pharmacy pricing structure to include several generic prescription medications at $4 and 90 day supplies at $10. The program has been very successful for the company and the pharmacy.

GetGo

Giant Eagle created the GetGo brand chain of self-service gas stations - some in conjunction with existing Giant Eagles, but most having their own convenience store. To compete with other local convenience store chains, Giant Eagle has instituted the Fuelperks! program, in which customers are rewarded by saving $0.10 per gallon ($0.20 in select markets) they buy on a fill-up with every $50 they spend in Giant Eagle using their Advantage card. Most GetGo stations are built from the ground-up, though Giant Eagle has bought several existing gas stations that are near Giant Eagle locations and has converted them into GetGos, including some former Shell stations in Ohio and most former Cross Roads locations in Pennsylvania. Some GetGo locations also have a WetGo automatic car wash and a GetGo Kitchen, which is used to help GetGo compete better with its main rival in Pittsburgh and up-and-coming rival in Cleveland: the more established and fast growing chain Sheetz, which is headquartered in Altoona There is also one GetGo location in West Virginia and two in Maryland.

Starbucks

Giant Eagle has a contract with the Starbucks company to run and operate Starbucks kiosks in some of their stores. The workers are still employed under Giant Eagle, but do become certified baristas after completing the process.

Giant Eagle Express

Giant Eagle express is a recently opened concept store of Giant Eagle. As of September 2007, there is only one operating store located in Harmar, PA. This store type is thought of as an attempt by Giant Eagle to stave off Tesco's expansion into the United States with a similar store concept. The store is larger than a GetGo, but much smaller than a regular Giant Eagle supermarket store. However, the store offers many of the same services as a Giant Eagle, such as a deli and a drive-through pharmacy. Giant Eagle Express also offers a café with prepared sandwiches, Giant Eagle's own Market District coffee, and a wireless internet connection. Outside, GetGo gasoline is available.

Employees

Giant Eagle has about 36,000 employees and many of them are unionized under United Food & Commercial Workers Local 23 of Pittsburgh, and UFCW Local 880 of Cleveland. The Maryland, Parma Heights, Toledo, and Columbus stores are not unionized, much like some independently owned stores throughout Pennsylvania and the Youngstown, Ohio area. In late 2007 Giant Eagle's Columbus Division was ranked by employees through a Business First survey as one of the top ten places to work in Central Ohio. Some employees in the Eagle's Nest and Photo Lab departments are also non-union employees.

Optical

In October 2004 Giant Eagle launched Giant Eagle Optical outside of their McIntyre Square Location. Currently there are four locations in the Pittsburgh area; North Hills-McIntyre Square, South Hills-Donaldson's Crossroads, East-Monroeville, West - Robinson.. The stores accept most major vision plans and offer a wide variety of designer frames as well as exclusive giant eagle brands. They also participate in the Fuelperks! program and are staffed mostly by ABO certified opticians.

Advertising

Giant Eagle uses the slogan "Make every day taste better", after having eliminated their previous slogan, "It takes a giant to make life simple." The former was introduced in August 2001, while the latter was first seen around January 1993. The "It takes a giant to make life simple" slogan spawned the "Fe Fi Fo Fum" commercials, which featured everything from the general store, the produce and deli departments to a spot featuring Jay Bell and Jeff King of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The slogan replaced the previous "A lot you can feel good about...especially the price" motto.

The chain, under pressure from Wal-Mart, has implemented a lower prices campaign throughout its stores, featured on products customers buy most. Giant Eagle has also reconfirmed its commitment to value by selling Topco-produced Valu Time products, which are substantially cheaper than other private-label and name-brand merchandise. These co-exist with the Giant Eagle branded items, which are priced lower than national brands yet higher than Valu Time. Before these brands existed, Giant Eagle generally used Topco's Food Club label as the generic product.

In 2007, Giant Eagle released the Giant Eagle Fuelperks! Credit Card in its Columbus Market. The Columbus Market was chosen for the pilot. With extra incentives such as earning an additional 4 cents off per gallon for every $50 you charge onto your fuelperks! credit card and earning an additional 4 cents off per gallon for every $100 in GetGo fuel purchases this idea has taken off. Depending on the results the fuelperks! credit card in the Columbus market, it will soon come to the Cleveland, Toledo, Pittsburgh, and Maryland markets.

References

External links

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