Quietly resting upon a busy ruralhighway in Bowie, Md., one ofXtra Mart’s small satellite officesdiscreetly sits. Though it’s petiteand unassuming, this office is the baseof operations for Xtra Mart’s new proprietaryfood program, Deli Joe’s, which hasjust been heavily modified and shows thepotential of carrying this 200-store chain toa new level of success.
Xtra Mart, which is headquartered inNorth Grosvenordale, Conn., has a long traditionof creating big potential out of smallresources. In fact, that’s how the chain wasfirst conceived. In 1950, founder WarrenAlpert started up his holdings companyWarren Equitieswhich founded and ownsXtra Martwith a mere $1,000 and a usedcar. Fortunately, thanks to the privatelyowned company’s commitment and dedicationto providing its customers with easyaccess to handy necessities, Alpert’s ideatook off.
Despite the vast success the companyhas found, it’s collectively kept its headsmall. Eckhard Breineder, the company’sfood coordinator in charge of the chain’sproprietary Deli Joe’s offering, started withthe company more than eight years ago asa store manager and has never known thecompany to make a fuss over anything.
“The good thing about Warren Equitiesand Xtra Mart, even though they are verybig and successful, they’ve always beenvery down to Earth,” said Breineder. “Thepeople running this company are quietand pride themselves on being successfulwithout making a lot of loud noise inthe industry.”
Currently operating in 10 states in theNortheast, Xtra Mart is dedicated to deepeningits well-established foothold in themarket. The chain has a real estate teamassembled specifically to finding and developinggrowth opportunities, whether it’sthrough store acquisitions or by creating anew store from the ground upa task thechain takes very seriously, easily investingseveral million per new store.
“One of the things that defines us as acompany and as a retailer is our desire togrownot just in the number of stores weown, but in all directions,” said Breineder.“It was one of Warren’s primary wishes forthe company.”
Growing has been a constant projectfor Xtra Mart, having dozens of remodelingand construction projects in the works for itscurrent stores, as well as the addition of severalnew stores in the pipeline. The chain isalso beginning to unveil a new design for itsstores, featuring a boost in size to 5,700 sq. ft.,the chain’s largest footprint to date. The firststore of this kind is opening in Sutton, Mass.and features 16 gasoline fueling positionscarrying Xtra Fuel, the company’s brandedfuel concept that it carries at several ofits locations.
According to Rob Corona, director ofpurchasing, the Sutton location representsa new standard for the chain and itsgoal of meeting continually changingcustomer needs.
“Our growth plan is to continue to buildthese larger, brighter, more-customerfriendly locations,” said Corona. “That waywe’re better able to expand our offering toour customers.”
A Company as Good as Its Staff
A key component to growing requires astrong employee base to help a store functionto its full potential, which is why Xtra Martdedicates much of its resources to not onlyfinding the right employees and managers,but also retaining them. Paying competitivewages is just one way the chain managesto stay on top.