Tedeschi Celebrates in Style

With a new store design, a dazzling foodservice program and outstanding customer service, the Massachusetts retailer is CSD’s 2012 Convenience Store Chain of the Year.

By John Lofstock, Editor.

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.

What makes the Rockland, Mass. chain truly special is that despite cementing its presence as a retail leader from generation to generation, it continues to evolve to meet and exceed customers’ expectations.

Over the past year, Tedeschi’s has transformed its retail image with a new store design, a thriving proprietary foodservice program, and a growing private label food and beverage brand. Combined with a company-owned foodservice commissary and vibrant community outreach programs, Tedeschi boasts the exceptional leadership and unsurpassed customer service to which all others aspire. In recognition of its hard work, dedication to convenience retailing and its firm commitment to employees and the communities it serves, Convenience Store Decisions is proud to honor Tedeschi Food Shops as the 2012 Convenience Store Chain of the Year.

Tedeschi, which supplanted Thorntons Inc. as Chain of the Year, is the 23rd winner of this prestigious award, considered the gold standard in convenience retailing.

 “Like many of our predecessors that have earned the Chain of the Year distinction, Tedeschi’s has a passion for what we do at every level of our company,” Peter Tedeschi said upon accepting the award at a dinner to honor the company last month in Las Vegas. “We have created a culture committed to teamwork and collaboration, and we are focused on people, employees, business partners and our customers.”

Proud History
Tedeschi was founded nearly 90 years ago by Peter Tedeschi’s grandfather Angelo. Tedeschi, who took the reigns as president and CEO from the family-owned business in 2008, said the company takes great pride in its past, but remains focused on the future and delivering a great retail environment for employees, franchisees and customers.

“To be considered for this award is very gratifying, but winning this award is nothing short of humbling. We have the utmost respect for our industry peers, and we are honored to have earned an award that has been previously presented to companies that exemplify a commitment to excellence,” Tedeschi said. “My fellow employees, management team and franchisees do whatever is necessary to make us a better company each and every day; and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to accept this award on their behalf.”

In addition to dozens of Tedeschi employees and hundreds of industry retailers and suppliers, Tedeschi took a moment to recognize the contributions of the chain’s past leaders, many of whom were in attendance at the Chain of the Year dinner, including John Ransom, the first president of Tedeschi’s convenience store business; Charlie Fitzgibbons, the former company president; and Allen Reardon, senior vice president of human resources.

“These great leaders of our company were instrumental in keeping Angelo’s principles alive so that we could continue his legacy,” Tedeschi said. “I’d like to think that Angelo would be proud of the company we have become today.”

A Deserving Award
Tedeschi Food Shops is regarded as a leader in the industry in key areas, such as technology, foodservice, labor management and innovation. It’s a company that truly lives by its motto “proud of our past, and focused on the future.”

Committed employees represent the heart and soul of the chain, working together in a corporate culture based on strong family values. The company promotes an employee-centric business environment that encourages community engagement, and empowers employees to operate customer-centric stores. In the words of Vice President of Sales and Marketing Joe Hamza, “We strive to provide our customers with a shopping experience, instead of a shopping transaction.”

While many retailers struggled in a weakened economy, the Chain of the Year award caps a busy year of growth for Tedeschis. During the year, the chain tripled its capital expenditures to upgrade stores, acquire new properties, further its investment in a company-owned commissary to grow the TD’s Deli brand and continued rolling out its extensive line of proprietary products.
It’s important to note that Tedeschi’s growth is wide and varied. Peter Tedeschi has made it clear that he, along with other industry leaders, recognized several years ago that the industry was changing; that profits from fuel and tobacco weren’t going to be enough to sustain the organization in the future and that success and growth would need to come by offering customers a unique and compelling value proposition.

As such, the company began aggressively reinvesting in its future by acquiring even better locations; renovating existing stores to attract nontraditional c-store customers, such as women and those looking for healthy foods; engaging the community with exciting promotional activity and solidifying its in-store offering with a well-rounded product mix.

Peter Tedeschi strongly believes  in and often talks about the power of the brand. With his family name top of mind with every customer that enters the store, Tedeschi cherishes this relationship with consumers and always goes the extra mile to exceed their expectations.

“We’re transforming our stores with relevant products and welcoming designs to better serve our current customers and attract new ones. Throughout this transformation we will remain bonded to the same values that have made us successful for nearly a century—great product, great service and great people,” Hamza said. “ This award serves to validate our efforts, while challenging us to continue our journey in pursuit of excellence with conviction.”

Food Focus
This push to satisfy consumer expectations has revealed Tedeschi to be a risk-taker, getting on the front line of retail innovations and expanding its merchandising efforts.

Tedeschi, for example, was among the very first retail chains nationally, and certainly the first in New England, to start carrying retail game-changers like Red Bull; vitaminwater; prepaid phone cards; Chobani yogurt; and new to its planogram, Unreal Candy, an innovative candy concept that promises to quickly gain traction in the c-store market.

Tedeschi feels so strongly about offering unique snacks and healthy, fresh foodservice solutions that it purchased its very own commissary so that it could create and offer products of a variety and quality that manufacturers could not provide them.
This dynamic offering includes a new selection of whole grain, organic, gluten-free and low sugar, health-centric snacks, plus sandwiches and entrees aimed at customers with special nutritional needs or simply those who are looking for more wholesome foods.

Innovative new ready-to-eat meals, like Café Spice Indian meals and Mediterranean-inspired snack packs, have been introduced to expand its choices of international cuisine and include new flavor profiles.

Fresh fruits and produce are present in all stores, ready for quick snacking or to take home as part of a healthy meal. Many Tedeschi stores now include a selection of fresh, all-natural packaged meat—a nod to Angelo Tedeschi’s roots as a butcher in the 1920s. This complements
its wide array of fresh produce and creates a one-stop shopping destination for customers seeking ingredients to make a wholesome family meal.

Plus, Tedeschi has launched pilot programs in a variety of categories that are unique to the convenience store industry, such as gelato and rotisserie chicken. “We strive to expand our product mix to include as many exciting and innovative products as possible,” Hamza said.

Driving Innovation
As the foodservice program has grown and the stores have become more sophisticated, Tedeschi was emboldened to introduce an extraordinary proprietary product line of Tedeschi Select products, which was quickly embraced by customers. The line includes bottled water, sodas, salty snacks, baked goods, packaged candy, seeds and nuts.

The line caught on so quickly and has become so popular that Tedeschi Select products are No. 1 in units sold in every category in which they are present, Hamza said. The company has vowed to continue growing its private label brand with creative, quality-driven products.

Recognizing Responsibilities
Tedeschi Food Shops proudly supports a variety of educational and extracurricular programs at schools across New England, including youth and high school sports teams, drama clubs and booster clubs. The chain engages in community outreach programs like YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, and D.A.R.E., and it provides support to numerous local organizations, including the Children’s Hospital of Boston.

On a national level, Tedeschi is a proud supporter of organizations like Habitat for Humanity, The Jimmy Fund, Muscular Dystrophy Association, March of Dimes and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Executives and other company leaders also commit their time and talents by participating on boards, including: South Shore Hospital, The South Shore Chamber of Commerce, The New England Convenience Store Association and STEP Inspire, to name a few.

Peter Tedeschi’s leadership extends beyond Tedeschi’s. As a member of NACS executive board and vice chairman of the NACS Political Action Committee (NACSPAC), Tedeschi spearheads the c-store industry’s support for political candidates that respond to the ever-increasing legislative issues that adversely affect the industry, its customers and employees.

“I believe that the greatest threat to the future of our industry comes not from our competitors, but from the very legislators that we’ve elected to represent us,” Tedeschi said. “This is a wonderful industry that we are so proud to be a part of. I am honored to have an opportunity to provide some leadership in these important areas and, as a company, we will always do our best to stand up for the industry and the hard work being done by our peers. We are all part of a unique and special retail family.”

For more on Tedeschi Food Shops and the Chain of the Year dinner, visit www.cstoredecisions.com.

At a Glance: Tedeschi Food Shops

Headquarters: Rockland, Mass.
Founded: 1923
Store Count: 193
Employees: 2,300
Markets of Operation: Mass., Conn.,  N.H., and R.I.
Company Brands: TD’s Deli and TD’s Express foodservice; Tedeschi Select groceries, candy, snacks and
beverages; and Tedeschi Fuel
Social Media: www.tedeschifoodshops.com, www.facebook.com/tedeschifoodshops, twitter.com/tedeschifoods

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