We love you Esselunga, but you’re no Wegmans!


In January, Ben and I were in the Esselunga shopping when this poster caught my eye.  Well, it was the listing of Trader Joe’s, Wegmans and Esselunga that caught my eye. 

tulips, jan 2016 005

It seems that Boston Consulting Group did a survey.  From their website is this summary.


  • BCG surveyed more than 227,000 consumers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the U.S.
  • This article reveals the companies whose customers’ experiences have earned them the strongest word-of-mouth recommendations, selected from seven diverse industries.
  • The results highlight pockets of superb performance across markets.


What Really Shapes the Customer Experience

Word-of-mouth recommendations offer a critical way to measure and improve a company’s performance—and ultimately to boost growth.

BCG’s Brand Advocacy Index (BAI) shines a spotlight on the companies that have achieved the pinnacle of word-of-mouth recommendations: brand advocacy.

To learn about where companies stand, we surveyed more than 227,000 consumers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the U.S. (See the exhibit “Brand Advocacy Index Rankings of Brands, by Country and Industry.”)


However, we have noticed that, in many cases, the biggest or most commonly known brands do not always score the highest in advocacy in a market. Consider retail grocery or retail banking, for instance: the top three most recommended brands include many fairly small, focused players that provide an excellent experience despite their lack of scale. In some cases, they do so by providing relatively good value for money (such as Lidl and Aldi in retail grocery) or strong emotional connections (such as Trader Joe’s and Costco).

Some bigger brands do not show up on our list of most recommended brands for several reasons. BAI measures relative scores among customers and noncustomers, so even with a low BAI, a company might have more advocates in absolute numbers. Small brands also typically create a loyal fan base, often helped by their specific positioning or unexpected excellence compared with large brands. In addition, established large brands sometimes simply have fewer new things to announce, giving people less reason to talk about them.

It is no secret that we love our Esselunga.  And had I been surveyed, my answer would have been different depending on the question.  Favorite grocery in Italy, would have been Esselunga.  Favorite grocery in the world,… well you might remember a few weeks back  when I went off the subject of roasted vegetables and ranked grocery stores.  

(Of all the grocery stores I know, my top three would be Wegmans, Carrefour and Super H. Followed closely by Harris-Teeter (or Harris Tweet as my father used to call them) Tang Freres, Lidl, The Fresh Market, then Giant, Iper-Coop and Whole Foods)

Probably I would have placed Esselunga in front of Giant, Iper-Coop and Whole Foods. 

Anyway, the interesting thing to note about the survey is that Esselunga appeared in this survey and scored well enough to be ranked right up there with Wegmans and Trader Joes;  Carrefour did not.  Esselunga is a home-grown, Italian chain of 151 stores, in only 6 of the 20 regions of Italy, while Carrefour has 530 stores here in Italy alone.  Carrefour which originates in France doesn’t even appear in the results from France. 

What do we love about the Esselunga?   Each week when we go in, we are greeted warmly by almost all the staff.  The same folks who were working there 8 years ago when we started shopping there, are still there.  The store is not a rotating crop of fresh faces.  And these are middle age folks,  not teenagers.  This is a career for them, not ‘just a job’.  I think they are treated with respect and paid a living wage.  The employees are happy, polite and helpful and they take pride in their work. I am sure they are not always perfect like this but through the years, we have learned the time of day to shop.  When we are there the store is not crowded.  I never managed to find a time when Wegmans was not crowded. 

On each trip to Esselunga, Ben and I stop by Bar Atlantic which is part of the Esselunga family.  Sometimes we eat lunch there, sometimes Ben has a coffee while I shop.  If, while I was shopping and something happened to Ben but he could not get me on the phone and was in distress, I feel like one of the bar employees would come into the store and find me.  And mind you, this is a big store, 30 aisles, 20+ checkout lanes.  A big store, no Mom and Pop shop.  It is clean, well maintained and well organized. 

What would make Esselunga into a Wegmans?  More ready to eat foods.  More international offerings.  Some French wine maybe? (rose of course)  But please, don’t lose those wonderful employees. 

Back to discussing grocery stores.  Well, you can imagine my delight,  when shortly after seeing BCG survey I discovered that Super H (also know as H Mart) is expanding into North Carolina.   Right there in Raleigh!!!!

From the Triangle Business Journal

Amanda Hoyle Staff Writer Triangle Business Journal

Real estate sources have confirmed that the New Jersey-based grocery chain H Mart – a grocer that specializes in Korean and other Asian foods – has signed a contract to open its first store in North Carolina at a Cary retail center.

H Mart will be moving into the former Lowes Foods-anchored space at the Cornerstone Village shopping center at 1961 High House Road after signing a lease deal for the entire 45,436-square-foot vacant space.

But I am really over the moon when reading and laughing about all the snow that was hitting Raleigh to see….

From the January 19, 2016 News and Observer




Wegmans Food Markets, an 88-store company that is ranked as one of the top supermarket chains in the country, is looking to open its first North Carolina store in Cary across the street from Cary Towne Center.

The family-owned company, headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., is eying a site on a 90-acre tract north of the mall. The land is owned by Columbia Development Group LLC, a Columbia, S.C.-based shopping center developer.

“We have signed a letter of intent and are working through lease negotiations with Columbia Development Group, with hopes of reaching a final lease agreement sometime during the first quarter of 2016,” Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale said Monday in an email.

Columbia Development Group has submitted preliminary plans to the town that include thousands of square feet of retail, restaurant and office space, plus some residential, structured parking and potentially a 130-room hotel. The company has contracted to buy the land from the state for $21.15 million.

Wegmans, with locations in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts, boasts a “European open-air market feel” with a pharmacy, ready-made meals, a pizza shop, coffee shop and more. The company plans to open at least 13 more stores in the coming years, according to the Wegmans website.

Representatives of Columbia Development Group discussed its preliminary development sketch plans with Cary staff at a pre-application conference Wednesday, Jan. 13. The plan shows 200,000 to 300,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space; 300,000 to 600,000 square feet of office space; and 300 to 600 apartments.

The Cary Town Council would have to approve rezoning the property before the project could move forward. Columbia Development Group has yet to submit a rezoning application to the town.

The Wegmans announcement, and the ambitious plans for the 90-acre site, come at a time when Cary Towne Center officials are determining the future of the indoor shopping center, which has been losing anchor tenants and smaller retailers. Sears closed in early 2015 and Macy’s announced this month that it would close its store this spring.

Cary Town Council members have said they want to the land off Cary Towne Boulevard, which is part of what they call the “eastern gateway into Cary,” to become a destination.

“This is a gateway into Cary, a gateway off of (interstate) 40,” Councilman Don Frantz said Friday. “It needs to be remarkable. It needs to be something that stands the test of time. It needs to be something that provides a lot of jobs, shopping, retail, restaurants and residential.”

Council member Lori Bush said Friday that she and others envision the 90 acres as “the next North Hills.”

“They’re doing what we had hoped, which is to partner with retail, commercial, office and residential, so that’s a great step forward,” Bush said. “I’m not sure it’s there yet, but they are working hard and continue to keep the lines of communication open.”

The council will discuss its vision for that corridor at a Tuesday, Jan. 26, work session, where members will review a draft plan for the east Cary gateway special planning area. The plan was drafted by Imagine Cary, a group of residents and planners.

Town staff have invited representatives of the Columbia Development Group to attend the meeting. Abbitt Goodwin Jr., a partner at Columbia Development Group’s Raleigh office, said he plans to attend.

If the development is approved, Wegmans would join a crowded field of grocery stores in Cary and western Wake County. Publix opened with fanfare in 2014 in west Cary – shortly after a new Harris Teeter opened on Walnut Street. And Publix plans to open a second Cary store in a former Lowes Foods store on Kildaire Farm Road.

A third Publix is planned at a shopping center at the northwest corner of Carpenter Fire Station and Green Level Church roads. A new Whole Foods is also set to be built on a 58-acre site at the southwest corner of N.C. 55 and N.C. 540, directly north of Panther Creek High School.

Meanwhile, Lowes has bought land in Cary for another store near the intersection of the future Morrisville Parkway extension and Mills Park Drive while it also has renovated existing stores. Lidl, a European competitor of Aldi, also hopes to enter the Cary and Apex markets.

Wegmans was ranked the No. 1 supermarket in the country in 2015 in Consumer Reports’ annual survey of customers. Out of 68 chains, it ranked high in freshness, baked goods and overall shopping experience. It was one of three chains, including The Fresh Market and Whole Foods, that earned high scores for produce

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/community/cary-news/article55454620.html#storylink=cpy

So not only is Wegmans coming but LIDL too!!!!!!!  Oh, my, Raleigh is becoming big time for sure!  Wegmans, Lidl, Super H, Harris-Teeter, Publix, Whole Foods and Fresh Market.  It will be a grocery store lover’s paradise!


1 Comment

  1. Pat

    I’m so excited that Wegman’s is coming here!!! Along with all the others that were mentiowned in the article. We have so many grocery stores so close to home!…You and Ben take care…Pat

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