The Super 50 – The top 50 largest U.S. grocery chain

Progressive Grocer plots the progress of the top 50 U.S. supermarket chains in a derby where the stakes are  ever greater.

The Top 50 Largest U.S. Grocery Chains  – In the slug-fest that has come to define food retailing, the nation’s supermarket competitors are duking it out  harder and heavier than ever to enhance their performance and accelerate market share. Gaining an edge over the  many faces of competition in the present era, however, requires an ever more delicate balancing act between  price, selection and service on one end and cost containment, capital investments in people, facilities and  shopper engagement strategies on the other, to attract and retain a strong customer base.

And though the hyper-competitive backdrop of the current retail food business is undisputedly the most trying and complex, with no signs of abatement, the past year has been among the most productive and satisfying for the best-managed and -capitalized companies profiled in PG‘s annual Super 50 countdown of the nation’s top supermarket operators.

While our annual study’s methodology has been revamped this year by seeking the direct guidance of each company profiled on the list (see related Methodology sidebar on page S5), the ranking of the top 50 largest U.S. grocery chains remains relatively unchanged from previous years, with the exception of a select few. However, we take a closer look at the progress of some of the most noteworthy companies residing at the top of the leader board, beginning on page S10.

The Super 50 Methodology

Each company profiled in The Super 50 was contacted by PG for guidance regarding the four categories included in the report: annual sales from their most recently concluded fiscal year, store count, top banners and employee counts (either total or full-time equivalents). Full-time equivalent employees are the sum of regular workers, plus one-half the number of part-time employees.

In cases where companies didn’t respond, data was sourced from public records, including 10K and annual reports. For privately held companies, results are based on information from Nielsen TDLinx, which collects and maintains store information across all channels selling consumer packaged goods. Nielsen TDLinx uses the Food Marketing Institute’s definition of a supermarket: grocery stores with a minimum of $2 million in annual sales; its data omits sales from convenience, drug and other retail channels that may be part of total revenue for some companies.

Wholesale membership clubs such as Sam’s, Costco and BJ’s are also not included. Supercenters are included, but only for their grocery-equivalent merchandise. Not included are soft goods; clothing; general merchandise such as hardware, appliances, computers and auto service; and other items not common to supermarkets.

Sales estimates from Nielsen TDLinx are presented in terms of all-commodity volume (ACV), which is defined as an annualized range of the estimated retail sales volume of all items sold at a retail site that pass through the retailer’s cash registers. TDLinx’s ACV is an estimate based on best available data — a directional measure to be used as an indicator of store and account size, not an actual retail sales report. All data is collected by TDLinx from a wide range of independent sources, and then enhanced with computer modeling. Information shown is from the February 2013 database.

The Super 50 List: