Tedeschi’s Showcases Pride and Tradition

At a Glance: Tedeschi Food Stores

 


Headquarters: Rockland, Mass.
Founded: 1923
Store Count: 189
2009 Annual Revenue: More than $600 million
Employees: 2,100
Markets of Operation: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island
Proprietary Brands: TD’s Deli and TD’s Express foodservice; Tedeschi Select groceries, snacks and beverages; and Tedeschi Fuel

 

While other chains may have more stores, few companies can match the rich tradition and deep roots Tedeschi Food Shops has planted in the convenience store industry. In business since 1923, the company’s nine decades of service in the New England market is a distinguishing feature the company wears with pride beginning with third-generation President and CEO Peter Tedeschi all the way down to the employees that man the front lines.

 

What makes the Rockland, Mass. chain truly special is that despite cementing its presence as a retail leader throughout New England from generation to generation, it continues to evolve to meet and exceed customers’ expectations. And to hear Peter Tedeschi tell it, retail evolution is not merely the cost of doing business, it’s an essential obligation his family business has to its consumers.

“A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into building the company and we will always be grateful to our customers and employees that helped the business grow and flourish,” said Tedeschi, who took the reigns as president and CEO from Charlie Fitzgibbons in 2008. “We take great pride in our past, but we are also keenly focused on our future. That means we are committed to building the best stores, with the best service and the best value. We’re not looking to pay lip service to delivering a great retail environment; it’s an important part of our culture.”

To that end, Tedeschi’s Food Shops is in the midst of once again transforming its retail image with a new store design, a thriving proprietary foodservice program and a growing private label food and beverage brand. Tedeschi-branded fuels anchor the forecourt.

“Pride in the brand begins internally,” said Tedeschi, who is the grandson of company founder Angelo Tedeschi. “Our employees believe in the culture and it becomes contagious. As employees serve as brand ambassadors it spreads to customers, franchisees, vendors–anyone that comes in contact with the brand.”

Brand Strength
Confidence in your brand is important, but it doesn’t fill the cash registers. The job of driving the business is headed by Joe Hamza, vice president of sales and marketing, who oversees all facets of sales, marketing, merchandising and advertising, a position he has held since 2007.  Bob Tedeschi, executive vice president of operations, manages the execution of sales strategies at the store level.

Under the guidance of the executive staff and the influence of Hamza’s innovative marketing model, Tedeschi’s is moving forward with the aggressive store redesign that includes a more vibrant red and white color scheme, state-of-the-art lighting, a significant investment in technology to improve transaction speed and connectivity, and an increased presence in the foodservice business.

“This is an exciting time for the convenience store industry because there are a lot of opportunities if you do things right,” said Hamza, one of the few remaining Store24 holdovers following its acquisition by Tedeschi’s in 2002. The last Store24 banner, incidentally, was taken down in June. “The industry remains fragmented, but it is still evolving faster than any other industry in retail. That means we have to move faster and be prepared to compete with supermarkets, drug chains, mass and other businesses targeting convenience customers.”

Tedeschi’s is going after the consumer with a host of destinations. It operates 21 delis under the TD’s Deli brand, an expanded TD’s Deli Express grab-and-go program and a handful of meat shops from previous acquisitions. Stores feature 16-17 cooler doors; a cold and frozen dispensed program branded Cool Adventures; Green Mountain coffee; fresh fruit and vegetables; interactive POS displays that advertise in-store promotions; and extra wide aisles for easy navigation. Packaged food, snacks and beverages, such as candy, peanuts, chips, bread and packaged beverages are marketed under the TD Select brand.

As part of the deli program, customers can choose from a host of wraps, sandwiches and salads. The company remains on track to begin testing touchscreen ordering kiosks early next year to speed fresh food transactions, and is also preparing to introduce a kid’s menu to capture a portion of the growing home meal replacement trend.

TD’s Deli Express features an eight-foot fresh case with sandwiches, salads, smoothies and other meal alternatives like fruit and yogurt that are all prepackaged for easy portability. The products are delivered three times a week from a centralized commissary near its headquarters in Rockland.

“We realize that no approach is one size fits all, so we had to define what our offering would be and make sure it aligned with our objectives,” Hamza said. “Once we invested the time to define how we wanted to go to market, the next step was executing the image remodels, which is really the easy part of all of this.”

The new Tedeschi image will also help present a unified image. In addition to Store24, Tedeschi’s acquired the Li’l Peach brand in 1996. Both brands had strong locations and were well known throughout their respective markets. To achieve efficiencies in marketing and advertising, not to mention the logistical complications of running three independent brands, the company decided to overhaul all remaining units to Tedeschi.

“We were sensitive to the fact that a lot of customers were loyal to Store24, but once we went in and made the upgrades to the equipment and rolled out a greater selection of fresh foods and beverages, customers came to appreciate the upgrades,” Hamza said.

To date, Tedeschi’s has renovated about a dozen stores with plans to overhaul every store. Though Hamza declined to put a timeframe on the conversions, the company is beginning to accelerate the plan as it gets a few under its belt. “We are certainly getting better at the process,” he said. “In the beginning we ran into roadblocks that we didn’t anticipate. Now we’re ready for them.”

Reaching Out to Customers
While this is a risky time to be making store investments, Hamza believes it sends a message to consumers that Tedeschi’s is making an investment to serve them. As part of this strategy, the company spends a lot of time studying the market and plans to conduct focus groups in the near future.

“If you want to grow the business you have to attract women customers. The industry hasn’t done a good job of this through the years,” Hamza said. “We think we know what they want so we are conducting the market research to validate that and ask them directly what is important to them–safety, lighting, etc. Based on the results, we’ll make the modifications that need to take place. “

To better connect with customers, Tedeschi’s has upgraded its presence online, both through a new Web site and an investment in social media that includes blogs, Facebook and Twitter. All of the social media efforts will connect through the Web site, www.tedeschifoodshops.com.

The site has many unique features, such as a search by service or offering option and customized store Web pages. The design, site organization and messaging strategy clearly conveys Tedeschi’s core offering of fresh foods, beverages and private label products. Ultimately, Hamza said, customer will be able to order food through the Web site and pick it up at a specific store.

“The overall design and functionality of the site positions Tedeschi Food Shops as a leader in convenience products and communicates the company’s longevity in the industry, customer-focused culture, innovative product offerings and its focus on local communities,” Hamza said.

Tied to its Roots
Tedeschi firmly believes in the company motto, “Proud of our past, focused on our future.” Angelo Tedeschi emigrated to the U.S. from Italy before opening his first meat market. Today, with dozens of franchisee-operated units, the company is providing a stable business opportunity for a generation of new Americans. “It’s fitting for us to be providing these opportunities because it’s such an important a part of our history, and we are closely tied to our roots,” Tedeschi said.

At the same time, Tedeschi maintains, it is critical to connect with the younger generation to ensure the brand remains fresh and relevant. “As an outsider that is still fairly new to the company’s operations, I have a keen understanding of the history of the brand. My father, my uncles, my cousins, and the people that built the company believed in providing a service. They knew the profits would come, but it was all about the service, so we need to continually reinforce that message,” he said.

Part of that message can be traced back to the Great Depression, a time not unlike today, which was extremely challenging for scores of New England residents, but also an era that gobbled up businesses and erased corporate fortunes. Angelo Tedeschi kept the company afloat by extending credit to customers and accepting payment as the money trickled in to desperate customers. It wasn’t the best of times for the Tedeschi clan, but doing the right thing for its customers only served to further enhance the reputation of this family owned business.  As the financial market began to grow, Tedeschi’s flourished right along with it, and loyal customers never seemed to forget who was there for them in a time of need.

“The country was in a bad spot, but my grandfather never thought twice about helping as much as he could,” Tedeschi said. “We need to remind consumers that we have been around sine 1923, and we’re still here. We survived the Great Depression alongside your grandparents and served your parents, and now it’s our turn to serve you. Proud of our past, focused on our future. That’s what we’re all about.”

1923Angelo Tedeschi opened the first Tedeschi retail location in his home in Rockland, Mass., selling imported Italian meats and cheeses from his basement. Soon after, he began peddling his products from the back of a mobile meat wagon before opening the first Tedeschi’s store.
1931Tedeschi’s maintained a steady business despite the Great Depression. Angelo Tedeschi extended credit for food and other merchandise to his loyal customers that were struggling to make ends meet.
1946After surviving six months as a prisoner of war during World War II, Angelo’s son Ralph returned to Rockland, Mass., with a Bronze Star for his service in the Army. He opened the first Tedeschi Super Market with the help of his brothers Nick, William and Bob as well as his brother-in-law Charlie Fitzgibbons. Angelo joined the team, operating the store’s meat counter.
1954Tedeschi Super Market expanded operations to include a bigger store in Hanover, Mass. The store offered a host of amenities including express checkout counters, page boy carry-out services, automatic doors and a free babysitting service.
1957Tedeschi’s opened its fifth Tedeschi Super Market in Plymouth, Mass., the largest market in New England at the time. The store boasted a snack bar, air conditioning and a 145-foot refrigerated meat counter.
1960A new Tedeschi Super Market is opened in Brockton, Mass. It’s immediately regarded as one of the top-selling markets in the country. Innovative features such as in-store shoe and jewelry repair shops complemented Tedeschi’s assortment of brand name products. The store also offered a customer lounge with a kitchen.
1961Ralph Tedeschi sold all six Tedeschi Super Markets to Stop & Shop. Stores would retain the Tedeschi name and Ralph became a vice president at Stop & Shop.
1964The Tedeschi brothers opened the first Angelo’s Supermarket in Holbrook, Mass. Offerings included an in-store bakery, gourmet food department and a full-service deli and seafood shop. Angelo’s maintained the family practice of community service, donating financial aid and food to local organizations as much as possible.
1972Angelo’s Supermarkets acquired the Curtis supermarket chain, which includes six supermarkets, three mini markets and 24 Curtis Compact Food Store locations. The super and mini markets were rebranded making Angelo’s Southeastern Massachusetts’ largest grocery chain.
1986The Tedeschi family decided to focus primarily on its chain of 53 convenience stores and sold the supermarket locations. Curtis Compact stores were rebranded as Tedeschi Food Shops, bringing the Tedeschi name back to storefronts.
1990As sales throughout the convenience store industry remained sluggish, Tedeschi Food Shops leaped into the fuel business by opening its first convenience store with gasoline in Brockton, Mass.
1996Tedeschi Food Shops purchased 64 Li’l Peach convenience stores, expanding the Tedeschi empire to a total of 134 stores. With the acquisition, the company became involved in franchising.
2002Making another significant purchase, Tedeschi Food Shops acquired 80 Store24 locations, expanding Tedeschi’s presence into Rhode Island and Connecticut. The Tedeschi Select brand was introduced to stores and quickly became a top-selling line.
2008Peter Tedeschi takes over as president and CEO of the family-owned business.
2009All Store24 and Li’l Peach locations were rebranded as Tedeschi Food Shops, creating unity among all stores. Gas pumps in Brockton, Fall River, and West Bridgewater, Mass., were converted to the Tedeschi brand as well.
2010At 189 locations and growing, Tedeschi Food Shops is continuing to push the limits of what a convenience store should be. Providing customers with fresh food, innovative services and community support remains the driving force behind Tedeschi Food Shops.
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