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Weis updates website with social media aggregator

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa. — Weis Markets on Thursday announced a revamped home page that features a section of the grocer’s social media updates. The idea to make the change was borne out of Facebook polls and online customer feedback.

The new social media aggregator at SocialMedia.WeisMarkets.com compiles all of Weis’ official social media outlets into a single, easy-to-read page. This section gives a quick overview of the company’s latest Facebook posts, with the number of fans and pictures of its fans; the latest tweets from Twitter; and the retailer’s YouTube videos.

“Customer input through social media helped us improve our site,” stated Brian Holt, Weis Markets’ director of marketing. “Thanks to their input, we’ve made our site easier to navigate and added a new social media section that allows us to connect with our customers in a more personal way.”

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Stop & Shop ‘shores’ up N.J. acquisition

BY DSN STAFF

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Stop & Shop announced that it has finalized its acquisition of five New Jersey Shore-area Foodtown supermarkets previously owned by Norkus Enterprises.

The transaction involves stores in Freehold Township, Manalapan, Neptune City, Point Pleasant Beach and Long Branch, N.J. Stop & Shop currently operates 10 stores in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

"Stop & Shop is always looking for opportunities and convenient locations to better serve our customers," said Ron Onorato, division president of Stop & Shop’s New York metro division. "We are very excited to have the opportunity to expand our presence in Monmouth and Ocean counties. We look forward to providing our customers in these areas the superior value and quality they have come to expect from Stop & Shop."

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Target tops earnings view, but tempers profit outlook

BY Mike Troy

MINNEAPOLIS — First-quarter sales at Target increased 2.8% to $15.6 billion, and same-store sales increased 2%, the company reported.

The modest sales growth translated into earnings per share that advance 9.8% to 99 cents, 4 cents better than analysts’ consensus estimate of 95 cents, and net income that increased 2.7% to $689 million. Share repurchase activity contributed to the earnings-per-share growth as Target spent $819 million during the first quarter to buy back 15.4 million shares at an average price of $53.32.

“Our first-quarter financial performance was the result of stronger-than-expected profitability in our credit card segment, which offset the impact of weaker-than-expected sales in our retail segment,” Target’s chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said.

Operating profits for the retail segment declined 4.2% to slightly more than $1 billion during the quarter as the company’s PFresh remodeling efforts and 5% rewards program pressured expenses and caused gross margins to contract to 30.4%, compared with 31.3% in the year-ago period.

Target expects to maintain its breakneck pace of store remodeling activity during the remainder of the year, with 300 additional units slated for remodel before October, adding to the 550 units that have already been converted to the PFresh concept.

In contrast to the performance of the retail business, the credit card segment produced unusually strong operating profits, which grew by 75% to $194 million as bad debt expense was virtually nonexistent at $12 million, compared with $197 million. Following the launch of the 5% rewards program, Target’s RED card products now account for 7.6% of the company’s sales.

Looking forward, Target CFO Doug Scovanner said analysts’ current consensus estimate of $1 for the second quarter seems potentially achievable but above the midpoint of a range of likely outcomes, as is the case with analysts’ full-year estimate of $4.23.

As for comps, Scovanner said, “We remain quite likely to achieve 4% to 5 % same-store sales performance in the fall, and I believe we are quite likely to experience better same-store sales growth in the second quarter than we did in the first quarter.”

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