Wegmans Food Markets

Monday 10 October 2011, by Ibrahim Bamba, Lisa Tam, Max Schlichter, Tjon Chen

4 inspired

MAIN FACTS ABOUT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE COMPANY

Wegmans Food Markets is a family-owned supermarket chain with 75 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland. Stores have in-store cafes, with seating for up to 300 people. There is a full-service restaurant, called The Pub, in two Pennsylvania stores. In 2011 Wegmans will open up its first store in Massachusetts. Wegmans has been performing excellent for multiple years now, and was listed as the 55th largest private company by Forbes.
Wegmans is in comparison to many other supermarkets far more orientated towards their own employees. At Wegmans, they believe that good people, working toward a common goal, can accomplish anything they set out to do. In this spirit, they set their goals to be the very best at serving the needs of their customers. They also believe that the only way to achieve their goals is by firstly fulfilling the needs of their employees. Furthermore, Wegmans often state the importance of using local suppliers and providing high quality products for their consumers.

Wegmans list the five statements that should indicate who they are as a company:
? We care about the well-being and success of every person.
? High standards are a way of life. We pursue excellence in everything we do.
? We make a difference in every community we serve.
? We respect and listen to our people.
? We empower our people to make decisions that improve their work and benefit our customers and our company.

Wegmans? good performance in both financial as well as ethical aspect have resulted in several awards for the company, for instance it was named in Ethisphere Magazine?s list of the World?s Most Ethical Companies in 2007 and 2010. Furthermore, Wegmans has been included in the top 10 list of Forbes? 100 best companies to work for, for 8 consecutive years now.

THE ETHICAL CHALLENGES THIS COMPANY IS ADDRESSING

Being good role models
Raising awareness about health and diseases
Willing to give up profits out of concern for employee and consumer health
Stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in stores
Contribution to the community
Smoking cessation programs to all employees
Participation in non-profit projects
Encourage education among disadvantaged employees
Environmentally concerned actions

Wegmans are trendsetters and role models for retailers around the world. The company is a leader in the implementation of its code of ethics and relying on its moral compass to influence business decisions. Wgmans are proactive with raising awareness about diseases, food, health, and education and are willing to take a risk in loosing profit by standing firm for what they believe in. Their biggest ethical contribution is the willingness to give up profit out of concern for their employees? health. They have pioneered by being the first local supermarket chain to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in all of its 70 store locations in the USA. Wegmans also introduced a ?quit smoking? program for its employees and believed that it would convey a strong message. The company also contributes to their community by handing out donations of damaged packaged goods and perishables to local food banks as well as sponsorship of local events and donations of foods to charitable activities. The company owns a child care services offered by a private company. Wegmans also support education for people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. For example, they hand out scholarships to help young employees with their college tuition costs. In addition, they offer a program that provides job training, tutoring and mentoring for at-risk students. With concern for the environment Wegmans established recycling bins for customers to deposit plastic bags, as part of a trial program with Mobil Chemical Company.

WHAT MAKES YOU BELIEVE THIS COMPANY IS REALLY ETHICAL AND WHY YOU TRUST IT

The reason that makes us believe that this company is ethical is because their main focus is not oriented towards making money but more on the social well-being; therefore we believe that it implies practices that go accordingly with the ethic and the justice. Also when you go a little bit inside the core of the company you understand that the human aspect is one of their main focus, we realized that employees are really taking care of by multiple initiatives offered to them. But example in 2006 when they decided to stop selling cigarettes, they did not hesitate to offer all employees a cessation program to help the ones addicted to be free of this harmful product. This shows a lot of commitment from the administration, mainly because such a decision can be costly and many business owners would probably be reluctant on such an expense, but the Wegmans administration felt like employee health is an important asset in a company. This is why we think that this company is very ethical.
Why do we trust this company, mainly because of the family value spread around the corporate culture. Most of the companies involved in that much community activities are sometimes trying to trick people conscience on what their main business really is. But we feel for many reasons that Wegmans mentality is based on a real commitment to the community towards equity. One of the reasons that brought us to that conclusion is that it?s a family enterprise and privately own, therefore they do not have to report to a bunch of shareholders only concerned buy the company growth and the return on their investment. For that matter we thing that it is truly possible to stay focus on their objectives and not be preoccupied by the financial statement. Secondly we learned that since their early beginning they always were concerned about the people well-being. Here is what we could read : <<Wegmans> >. We understand that good food at an affordable price was always one of their motor and it still is unlike many companies that changed their missions to satisfy the public opinion. For all those reasons we think Wegmans? mission is genuine and that is why we trust them.

THE POSSIBLE CHALLENGES FACING THE COMPANY IN THE FUTURE AND HOW YOU THINK THIS COMPANY MAY IMPROVE.

There are several categories if issues Wegmans has to face in the future. For one there are economic challenges. The company has to find a balance between growth and staying ethically and environmentally concerned for example. This comes with the challenge of growing beyond their home region in the North-East States of the US, where there are different market conditions. This also comes with the question of how to and which kind of food to source locally, if there is no sufficient level of local agriculture.
Ethically speaking this gives rise to another question, how to prevent the business strategy from getting corrupted by economic factors like growth and profitability? One way of doing so could be managed by setting specific standards (such as % of locally supplied food, CO2 emissions of less than Xg/ product) that need to fulfill for every store that is planned to be opened in the future.
In the future the opposition to this business model might also start to argument haw it is ethical to support just the region around a certain store, where there are enough customers being able afford more expensive groceries. To boil it down they would argue that this business model just preserves a rich community but does not fight the global issues regarding food overproduction or miss treatment of employees.
A fairly reasonable argument, thus Wegmans could improve their business model by contributing not just to the neighboring communities but also to the problem solving process on a global scale.

Bibliography

http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/stories/2007/12/31/daily30.html
http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/PressReleaseDetailView?langId=-1&storeId=10052&catalogId=10002&productId=661311
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2011/snapshots/3.html http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2011/snapshots/3.html
http://www.forbes.com/lists/2010/21/private-companies-10_Wegmans-Food-Markets_MGF0.html
http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/87/customer-wegmans.html

Location: Rochester (United States of America, New York)

Sector: grocery

Official website: http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/HomepageView?storeId=10052&catalogId=10002&langId=-1

Key figures:

As the company is privately owned, they do not provide a public annual report. Therefore, the amount of key figures that can be found is quite limited. The following information is available:

Company revenue: USD 5,6 billion (2010)
Amount of employees: <40.000 (2010)

Nbr. visits: 6013

Nbr. inspires: 4