Wegmans, a regional grocery chain that has cultivated a cult-like following among its shoppers, is dipping its toes into the highly competitive New York City market.
The nearly 100-year-old, family-owned grocer said it will serve as an anchor for the $140 million redevelopment of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The site is near the residential neighborhoods of Downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. The Wegmans store is expected to be 74,000 square feet.
“It is a thrill to bring Wegmans to Brooklyn, along with hundreds of new jobs,” said Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman.
Wegmans, which generates $7.4 billion in annual sales from 85 stores, operates mostly in New York and Pennsylvania, with a handful of stores in New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts. Though it is a fairly small regional grocer, ranking only 32nd on the 2014 Supermarket News list based on sales volume, it is well-regarded. Wegmans is one of just 13 companies to reappear on Fortune’s Best Companies list every year since the list began in 1998. The chain has also topped Consumer Reports rankings of the nation’s best supermarkets for the past two years.
It will need all of that hard-earned goodwill to break into the competitive New York City market. Whole Foods (WFM) has opened more locations in the city and other urban areas across America with smaller format stores, and is also planning to soon open some cheaper formats to lure more Millennial consumers. Recently public Fairway (FWM) is another well-entrenched competitor, as is Trader Joe’s.
The Brooklyn Wegmans will likely directly compete with a Whole Foods store located in the Gowanus neighborhood, as well as Red Hook’s Fairway Market.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard that Wegmans will soon call home is currently undergoing its largest expansion since World War II and is on track to add more than 2 million square feet of new space and up to 9,000 additional jobs over the next five years.