TOP 25

Retailer Round-Up
Most of the Top 25 Retailers on this year’s list have at least a few things in common — they’re working hard to stay on top; they’re combating the challenges set by a difficult economy; they’re working to capture consumers’ attention; and most are paying close attention to the No. 1 retailer, Wal-Mart. The list brings retailers of all formats together, with supermarkets, drug chains and mass merchandisers all grabbing top positions.
Growth strategies vary among the leading retailers. There’s focus on acquisition, building new stores, increasing basket size, capturing new consumers, increasing margins and finding the perfect position for a private label program, among a host of other initiatives.
Take a look at what’s happening at our nation’s leading retailers, ranked based on annual dollar sales.
1. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark.
Web siteS:;
Sales: $244.5 billion
Total number of stores: Wal-Mart — 1,494; Wal-Mart Supercenters — 1,386, Sam’s Club — 532; Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets — 56; Wal-Mart International — 1,309
New units planned for this year: 50 to 55 discount stores, 220 to 230 Supercenters (relocations or expansions of existing discount stores will account for approximately 140 of the Supercenters, the remainder will be built in new locations), 20 to 25 Neighborhood Market stores, 35 to 40 Sam’s Club stores
Overall preferred square footage: 47,000-220,000
No. of employees: More than 1.3 million worldwide
Key personnel:
Chairman — S. Robson Walton
President/CEO — H. Lee Scott
President/CEO, Wal-Mart International — John Menzer
The Scoop: To help sustain the aggressive growth plans this year and next, Wal-Mart plans to construct three new regional general merchandise distribution centers and two new food distribution centers in the next year. Combined, these five distribution centers will add more than 5 million square feet of space.
2. The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, Ohio
Web site:
Sales: $53.8 billion
Total number of stores: About 3,700 stores nationwide under nearly two dozen banners; 2,532 grocery retail stores in 32 states; 802 convenience stores under six banners in 16 states; 440 fine jewelry stores under names such as Fred Meyer Jewelers, Littman Jewelers, Barclay Jewelers, and Fox's
Key personnel: Kroger operates its grocery retail stores in three formats: supermarkets, multi-department stores and price-impact warehouse stores. Supermarkets – Kroger, Ralphs, Dillons, Smith’s, King Scoopers, Fry’s, QFC, City Market, Hilander, Owen’s, Jay C, Cala Foods/Bell Markets, Kessel Food Markets, Pay Less, Baker’s, Gerbes; Multi-departments stores — Fred Meyer, Fry’s Marketplace; Price-impact warehouse stores — Food 4 Less, Foods Co.
Average store size: 2,450 – 145,000 square feet
No. of employees: Approximately 290,000
Key personnel:
Chairman — Joseph A. Pichler
CEO and director — David B. Dillon
President and COO — Don W. McGeorge
The Scoop: The Kroger Co.’s Manufacturing Division is one of the largest manufacturers of exclusive brand products in the United States, manufacturing more than 3,500 food and non-food products in 41 plants. Kroger manufactures approximately 55 percent of private label items.
3. Target Corp., Minneapolis, Minn.
Web site:
Sales: $48.2 billion
Total number of stores: Target Corp. comprises the Target discount chain, Mervyn’s midrange department stores, and Marshall Field’s upscale department stores, currently on the block.Total Target stores reaches 1,249 in 47 states, including 119 SuperTarget stores
Key personnel: Target, Target Greatland, SuperTarget
Average square footage: Target — 126,000; Target Greatland — 145,000; SuperTarget — 175,000
No. of employees: Across all divisions, Target Corp. employs 305,000
Key personnel:
Chairman/CEO — Bob Ulrich
President — Gregg Steinhafel
The Scoop: Target increased its sales almost 10 percent over last year, though management has not been happy with the performance of Marshall Field’s and has put it up for sale. But the company’s Target, Greatland and SuperTarget stores account for 80 percent of Target Corp.’s sales, and those outlets have been strong. Aiming for an upscale approach to discount merchandising, Target offers a number of exclusive brands.
4. Costco Wholesale Corp., Issaquah, Wash.
Web site:
Sales: $41.7 billion
Total number of stores: 432 — 319 in United States; 63 in Canada; 15 in the United Kingdom; 3 in Taiwan; 5 in Korea; 4 in Japan; and 23 in Mexico
Average square footage: 136,177
No. of employees: 102,000 worldwide
Key personnel:
Chairman — Jeffrey H. Brotman
President and CEO — James D. Sinegal
The Scoop: Costco operates more than 430 membership warehouses worldwide, serving 41 million members. An average SKU count in any given store falls in the neighborhood of a disciplined 4,000, with 10 percent falling under the Kirkland Signature private label brand.
5. Safeway Inc., Pleasanton, Calif.
Web site:
Sales: $35.6 billion
Total number of stores: 1,817 stores across the United States and Canada
Key personnel: Safeway, Vons, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Genuardi’s, Carrs, Dominick’s, Pak ‘n Save Foods, Pavilions
Key personnel:
Chairman/president/CEO — Steven A. Burd
The Scoop: The Dominick’s division of Safeway has continued to be an issue for the leading retailer. Having put the division on the selling block because of union unrest and customer dissatisfaction, Safeway recently took it off the market and is looking into improving its performance through a handful of store closures. Safeway recently announced plans to close 12 under-performing stores in the Chicagoland area, hoping to transfer sales to other stores, as well as create employment opportunities.
6. Albertson’s Inc., Boise, Idaho
Web sites:,,,,
Sales: $35.4 billion
Total number of stores: More than 2,300 in 31 states
Key personnel: Albertsons, Acme Markets, Jewel, Osco Drug, Sav-on, Super Saver and Max Foods
Average square footage: 35,000-107,000, stand-along drugstores average about 19,000 square feet
No. of employees: More than 200,000
Key personnel:
Chairman/CEO — Larry Johnston
President/COO — Peter Lynch
The Scoop: Albertson’s recently announced plans to acquire JS USA Holdings Inc., which operates under the Shaw’s and Star Markets banners. Shaw’s is currently a wholly owned subsidiary of J Sainsbury plc and offers Albertson’s an extended “national footprint” into Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The deal has a $2.475-billion price tag.
7. Walgreen Co., Deerfield, Ill.
Web site:
Sales: $32.5 billion
Total number of stores: 4,336 in 44 states and Puerto Rico
Average square footage: 14,500 square feet
No. of employees: 154,000
Key personnel:
Chairman/CEO — David W. Bernauer
President/COO — Jeffrey A. Rein
The Scoop: With fewer stores than its leading competitor, CVS, will have when its Eckerd stores’ acquisition is finalized, Walgreens has been called “homespun” with growth not through acquisition, but through building new stores on prime property. Walgreens opened 430 new stores in 2003, with annual sales per store averaging $7.4 million. Financially, Walgreens marked yet another milestone in 2003, recording its 29th consecutive year of record sales and earnings.
8. Kmart Corp., Troy, Mich.
Web site:
Sales: $30.8 billion
Total number of stores: 1,512
Key personnel: Kmart, Kmart Super Center, Big Kmart
Store square footage: 80,000 to 190,000
No. of employees: Approximately 170,000
Key personnel:
Chairman — Edward S. Lampert
President/CEO — Julian C. Day
The Scoop: Kmart successfully emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2003, having reorganized much of its corporate structure and shuttered nearly 600 stores in 2002 and 2003. But Kmart still finds itself in the spotlight, as it was caught amid the fury of Martha Stewart’s legal troubles. Martha Stewart is often considered the face of Kmart, as her name and brands are a big part of Kmart’s marketing and merchandising strategy.
9. Ahold USA, Chantilly, Va.
Web sites:,,,,,,
Sales: $26.9 billion*
Total number of stores: More than 1,600 under six banners along the eastern seaboard
Key personnel: Stop & Shop, Giant Foods (Giant-Carlisle and Giant-Landover), Bruno’s, Tops Friendly Markets, Bi-Lo
No. of employees: More than 170,000
Key personnel:
President/CEO — Bill Grize
Executive vice president/CFO — Brian W. Hotarek
Chief business and technology officer — Ed Gropp
The Scoop: Ahold recently announced plans to divest its Bi-Lo and Bruno’s subsidiaries, two of the leading supermarket chains in the Southeast United States. The divestment aims to “optimize its portfolio,” the company says “and strengthen its financial position by reducing debt.” In recent years, Ahold USA has faced some accounting woes, focused mostly on the foodservice element of its business, but continues momentum to maintain focused growth strategies.
10. CVS Corp., Woonsocket, R.I.
Web site:
Sales: $26.6 billion
Total number of stores: 4,179
No. of employees: 110,000
Key personnel:
Chairman/president/CEO — Thomas M. Ryan
The Scoop: Big news for CVS, thanks to an agreement with the J.C. Penney Co. to acquire 1,260 Eckerd drug stores located mainly in the southern United States. The acquisition will create the leading American pharmacy retailer with more than 5,000 stores in 36 states. The majority of the stores CVS will acquire are located in Florida and Texas, while others are located in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arizona, Missouri, Kansas and Alabama. The distribution centers being acquired are located near Dallas and Houston, Texas and Orlando, Florida. And CVS is proud to say that even before this year’s announcement of the Eckerd acquisition, “2003 was the best year in our 40-year history, with sales hitting an all-time high of $26.6 billion,” according to Tom Ryan, chairman, president and chief executive officer.
11. SUPERVALU Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn.
Web site:
Sales: $19.2 billion
Total number of stores: More than 1,400 retail outlets
Key personnel: bigg’s, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh World Class Supermarkets, Hornbacher’s, Save-A-Lot, Scott’s Foods, Shop ‘n Save, Shoppers Food Warehouse
No. of employees: 57,400
Key personnel:
Chairman/president/CEO — Jeff Noodle
President/COO, retail division — John Hooley
The Scoop: The combination of Supervalu’s food wholesale business and its retail business creates quite a presence for the company. It supplies nearly 4,000 grocery stores in 48 states with brand-name and private label goods, and it runs more than 1,400 stores in nearly 40 states under a range of banners and formats. Currently Save-A-Lot is a golden child as the dollar store channel experiences some growth, and Save-A-Lot expands so much so that its expansion ranked second-fastest in the grocery industry in 2002. Save-A-Lot is currently the sixth-largest U.S. grocery retailer operating under one banner, the company says.
12. Publix Super Markets Inc.. Lakeland, Fla.
Web site:
Sales: $16.8 billion
Total number of stores: 812 supermarkets primarily located in Florida. Other stores are spread throughout Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. Publix also runs eight distribution centers and three manufacturing facilities.
No. of employees: More than 123,500
Key personnel:
Chairman — Howard Jenkins
President/director — William Crenshaw
CEO/director — Charles Jenkins Jr.
The Scoop: Though comparable-store sales for 2003 were unchanged, Publix achieved 5.8 percent growth in overall sales compared with 2002. Reaching $16.8 billion in sales and growing its stock price for three consecutive quarters, Publix Chief Executive Officer Charlie Jenkins Jr. says he’s “very pleased.” Publix stock is not traded publicly and is made available to only current Publix associates and members of the board of directors. It is estimated that the employees own about 30 percent of the company, which has been owned and run by the Jenkins family since 1930. It is the largest employee-owned supermarket chain in the United States.
13. Rite Aid Corp., Camp Hill, Pa.
Web site:
Sales: $16.6 billion
Total number of stores: 3,382 in 28 states and Washington, D.C.
No. of employees: More than 72,000
Key personnel:
Chairman — Robert G. Miller
President/CEO — Mary Sammons
The Scoop: Rite Aid continues to put big muscle behind its private label program, reporting with its year-end results that private brands have accomplished 11.4 percent penetration with growth of 17.5 percent in the last quarter. There are more than 1,900 products offered under the Rite Aid private label, and executives have given private label some of the credit for putting Rite Aid out of the red and back in the black.
14. Delhaize America Inc., Salisbury, N.C.
Web site:
Sales: $15.6 billion
Total number of stores: More than 1,500 in 16 states in the eastern United States
Key personnel: Food Lion, Hannaford Bros., Kash ‘n Karry, Harveys
No. of employees: 108,000
Key personnel:
Chairman — Hugh Farrington
President/CEO — R. William McCanless
The Scoop: Delhaize America added to its family in 2003, with the addition of Harveys — The Savings Place. The J.H. Harvey Co., which operates the Harveys grocery chain, was founded in 1950 and grew to more than 40 stores by the end of 2003. A well-known name in south and central Georgia, Harveys stores are between 18,000 and 35,000 square feet. The division became part of the Delhaize America figures in November 2003.
15. Eckerd Corp., Clearwater, Fla.
Web site:
Sales: $15.1 billion
Total number of stores: 2,805
No. of employees: 66,000, including 16,500 pharmacy associates
Key personnel:
Chairman/CEO — J. Wayne Harris (Executive VP of parent company J.C. Penney Co.)
COO — David Aston
CFO — Dennis Miller
The Scoop: Eckerd has been making news lately, primarily because parent company J.C. Penney Co. has sold the drug chain for more than $4.5 billion. The deal is multi-faceted, with The Jean Coutu Group acquiring Eckerd drugstores and support facilities located in 13 Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, as well as the Eckerd Home Office in Florida. CVS will acquire Eckerd drugstores and support facilities located in the remaining southern states, and Eckerd’s pharmacy benefits management and mail order businesses.
16. Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., Jacksonville, Fla.
Web site:
Sales: $12.2 billion
Total number of stores: 1,070 in 12 mostly southeastern states and the Bahamas
Key personnel: Winn-Dixie, Winn-Dixie Marketplace, Thriftway and City Markets food and drug stores. Winn-Dixie Liquor Stores, SaveRite and Sack-and-Save warehouse outlets, and Pump and Save
No. of employees: More than 100,000
Key personnel:
Chairman — A. Dano Davis
President/CEO/Director — Frank Lazaran
Senior Vice President/CFO — Bennett L. Nussbaum
The Scoop:
With new President, Chief Executive Officer and Director Frank Lazaran at the helm, Winn-Dixie is about to get a makeover. Last year the Winn-Dixie private label had its turn — now boasting new products, new guarantees and a new logo — so now it’s the actual stores getting some attention. A big part of the company’s initiatives this year is the “Image Makeover Program,” in which “we need to change the consumer’s opinion of Winn-Dixie,” according to Lazaran. To oversee this initiative, Winn-Dixie recently tapped Chief Development Officer Paul Novak, who will be responsible for overall asset management of all the company’s stores. He brings more than 34 years of extensive real estate development experience to the organization. Another management shift at the top took place recently, with Bennett L. Nussbaum being named senior vice president and chief financial officer.
17. Meijer Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich.
Web site:
Sales: $11.1 billion*
Total number of stores: About 160, primarily in Michigan, but also Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio
No. of employees: 75,000
Key personnel:
Co-chairman/ CEO — Hendrik G. (Hank) Meijer
President/COO — Paul Boyer
The Scoop: Considered one of the pioneers in the supercenter format, Meijer is seeing more and more competition as Wal-Mart moves into Meijer’s Midwest territory. So as the privately owned retailer approaches its 70th anniversary this summer, the organization is undergoing some changes. There are aggressive remodeling projects plans — spearheaded by renowned designer and architect David Rockwell — for the Meijer stores, with several new stores to be built in the next few years. One new test store will feature high-end items not typically found at discount supercenters and new architecture will alter the overall appearance of the store. Another test store will focus on some general merchandise changes, including more private label brands such as At Home with Meijer, a line including bedding, doormats and other items.
18. The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co., Montvale, N.J.
Web site:
Sales: $10.8 billion
Total number of stores: 645
Key personnel: U.S. A&P, Waldbaum’s, A&P Super Foodmart, The Food Emporium, Super Fresh, Farmer Jack, Sav-A-Center and Food Basics Canada: A&P, Dominion, Ultra Food & Drug, Food Basics and The Barn Markets
No. of employees: Approximately 78,000
Key personnel:
Chairman/President/CEO — Christian W.E. Haub
The Scoop: After quite a bit of restructuring last year, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. had a good year. A&P Canada delivered positive sales and earnings, despite the softer Canadian economy and increased competition. The turnaround of A&P U.S. gained momentum, with comparable store sales increasing steadily. Its Farmer Jack business continued to improve, as a new union contract was negotiated and store closures, sales or conversions in the Michigan market progressed. The company is making news with Food Basics, a new concept in food shopping where shoppers save as much as 30 percent on the grocery items they buy most, the company says.
19. H.E. Butt Grocery Co., San Antonio, Texas
Web sites:,,,
Sales: $10.7 billion
Total number of stores: More than 300
Key personnel: H-E-B, Central Market, Pantry Foods, 20 upscale and discount stores in Mexico
No. of employees: 56,000
Key personnel:
Chairman/ CEO — Charles C. Butt
The Scoop: Nearly every conversation about handling private label “like a brand” comes around to land on the happenings within the stores that are part of this privately owned Texas grocer. H-E-B continually introduces new products under its private label lines and goes the distance to sell them. It’s not unusual to see major marketing initiatives, including couponing, ads, displays and POS materials for H-E-B’s own products.
20. Dollar General Corp., Goodlettsville, Tenn.
Web site:
Sales: $6.9 billion
Total number of stores:
No. of employees: 57,800
Key personnel:
Chairman/ CEO — David A. Perdue
President/COO — Lawrence V. Jackson
The Scoop: Last year was another successful year for Dollar General, having increased sales 12.6 percent and staying focused on its growth initiatives. Dollar General expanded the perishable foods/cooler program from 1,367 stores to 2,445 stores and implemented automatic replenishment of all core merchandise in an additional 2,473 stores, ultimately improving operational efficiencies and increasing store inventory in-stock levels. The company has its sights set on 2004 with a plan to open approximately 675 new Dollar General stores and 20 Dollar General Market stores.
21. BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc., Natick, Mass.
Web site:
Sales: $6.7 billion
Total number of stores: 150 clubs and 78 gas stations
Key personnel:
Chairman — Herbert J. Zarkin
President/CEO — Michael T. Wedge
Executive vice president/CFO — Frank D. Forward
The Scoop What’s new? BJ’s Berkley & Jensen brand targeted to Inner Circle, or retail members, and Executive Choice items that are targeted to small businesses,welcomed some new private label lines in BJ’s warehouses up and down the East Coast. During 2003, BJ’s expanded its line of corporate brands with the addition of Rozzano Italian foods, Lanesboro men’s apparel, Wellsley Farms prepared foods, LivingHome housewares and Portsmouth Shores seasonal furniture.
22. . Family Dollar Stores Inc., Matthews, N.C.
Web site:
Sales: $4.8 billion
Total number of stores: 5,027 in 43 states
Square footage: Stores range from 7,500 to 9,500 square feet
No. of employees: More than 39,000
Key personnel:
Chairman/ CEO — Howard R. Levine
Vice chairman/CFO — R. James Kelly
President/COO — R. David Alexander Jr.
The Scoop: Family Dollar marked a milestone in 2003 — the opening of its 5,000th store in the chain. Some highlights from 2003 include: 14.1 percent increase in sales, the net addition of 411 new stores and a balance sheet at year-end with no debt. Plans for next year include approximately 565 new stores, expansion or relocation of about 125 stores, closure of about 60 stores and construction of an eighth distribution center.
23. Giant Eagle Inc. Pittsburgh, Pa.
Web site:
Sales: $4.7 billion
Total number of stores: 222 total — 138 corporate and 84 independently owned supermarkets throughout Maryland, western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia
Average square footage: Newly constructed stores average 75,000 to 85,000 square feet
No. of employees: 36,000
Key personnel:
Chairman/CEO — David S. Shapira
President/COO — Raymond Burgo
The Scoop: Giant Eagle stores carry about 20,000 to 60,000 items per store, including approximately 5,000 corporate and company-owned brand products.
24. Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc., West Bridgewater, Mass.
Web site:
Sales: $4.5 billion
Total number of stores: 202 in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont
Key personnel: Shaw’s, Start Markets
No. of employees: 30,682
Key personnel:
CEO — Paul Gannon
The Scoop: Shaw’s Supermarkets’ owner J Sainsbury recently agreed to sell Shaw’s to Albertson’s. Shaw’s is currently a wholly owned subsidiary of J Sainsbury plc and offers Albertson’s an extended “national footprint” into areas where Shaw’s has an established presence. The deal has a $2.475-billion price tag.
25. Longs Drug Stores Corp., Walnut Creek, Calif.
Web site:
Sales: $4.5 billion
Total number of stores: More than 470 in California, Hawaii, Washington, Nevada, Colorado and Oregon
No. of employees: 22,200
Key personnel:
Chairman/President/ CEO — Warren Bryant
The Scoop: Longs Drug Stores continues its “sweeping supply chain modernization initiative” begun last year, and has accelerated the current phases to change the procurement, promotion, management, distribution and selling processes for non-pharmacy products.

Retailer Headquarters 2003 Sales
(in millions)
1. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Bentonville, Ark. $244,524.0
2. The Kroger Co. Cincinnati, Ohio $53,791.0
3. Target Corp. Minneapolis, Minn. $48,163.0
4. Costco Wholesale Corp. Issaquah, Wash. $41,700.0
5. Safeway Inc. Pleasanton, Calif. $35,552.7
6. Albertsons Inc. Boise, Ida. $35,436.0
7. Walgreen Co. Deerfield, Ill. $32,505.4
8. Kmart Corp. Troy, Mich. $30,762.0
9. Ahold USA Chantilly, Va. $26,900.0*
10. CVS Corp. Woonsocket, R.I. $26,588.0
11. SUPERVALU Inc. Eden Prairie, Minn. $19,160.4
12. Publix Super Markets Inc. Lakeland, Fla. $16,800.0
13. Rite Aid Corp. Camp Hill, Pa. $16,600.0
14. Delhaize America Inc. Salisbury, N.C. $15,553.2
15. Eckerd Corp. Clearwater, Fla. $15,100.0
16. Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. Jacksonville, Fla. $12,168.4
17. Meijer Inc. Grand Rapids, Mich. $11,100.0*
18. The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. Montvale, N.J. $10,790.0
19. H.E. Butt Grocery Co. San Antonio, Texas $10,700.0*
20. Dollar General Corp. Goodlettsville, Tenn. $6,900.0
21. BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. Natick, Mass. $6,724.2
22. Family Dollar Stores Inc. Matthews, N.C. $4,750.2
23. Giant Eagle Inc. Pittsburgh, Pa. $4,739.0
24. Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc. West Bridgewater, Mass. $4,528.6
25. Longs Drug Stores Corp. Walnut Creek, Calif. $4,526.5
This Top 25 list is based on figures representing published sales for public companies, voluntarily disclosed sales, and estimates based on industry sources and publicly available business reporting sources, including Hoover’s Online.
Source: PL Buyer magazine, a sister publication to Confectioner