“I will continue in my role, but now as chairman of the company,” Danny Wegman said in a statement last month. “The time has come to create a structure for the future that will allow us to remain strong, vibrant and family owned. I have no doubt that our company will be in good hands.”
Colleen Wegman joined Wegmans in 1991 and rose through the ranks, serving as store manager, director of e-commerce and vice president. She was appointed president in 2005 by the late Robert Wegman, her grandfather.
That year Danny Wegman, who had been named president of the chain in 1976, became CEO. The same year saw the chain open its 69th store, its first in Maryland. Since then Wegmans has expanded aggressively, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic but also entering Massachusetts, where it now operates four locations, including its first 70,000-square-foot-plus store in Chestnut Hill. Wegmans supermarkets are typically 100,000 square feet or more.
Additional stores are slated for Natick, Mass., and the Landmark Center in Boston’s Fenway Park neighborhood. And last fall the company signed a lease in the Meadow Glen Mall in Medford.
Colleen Wegman will oversee an ongoing expansion drive that will see the chain enter New York City for the first time as well as the state of North Carolina. Wegmans is currently working on four locations in North Carolina and looking at other potential sites in the state. Thus far, the company is developing stores in Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Cary, where two stores are in the works.
Much farther north, Wegmans plans to open its highly anticipated flagship New York City store in the former Brooklyn Navy Yard. Interestingly, the Brooklyn store will feature the 74,000-square-foot footprint first deployed in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Last December the company announced that it had agreed to purchase a 20-acre plot of land in Harrison, N.Y., in upscale Westchester County, just north of New York City. It will be Wegmans’ first location in the county.
Discussion of Wegmans eventually comes around to the chain’s near-cult following. Consumers regularly request that the company open a store in their community, and a Wegmans opening can draw more than 20,000 shoppers.
For instance, when the Northborough, Mass., store opened in 2011, the store attracted 25,500 shoppers. That record was broken in June 2015, when an estimated 26,000 people flocked to the opening of the Wegmans in Midlothian, Va. According to the company, the estimates are based on the number of customer transactions times a multiplier that assumes that a percentage of customers will bring someone with them.
Danny Wegman’s other daughter, Nicole Wegman, is senior vice president at the family-owned company, which currently operates 92 supermarkets — 46 in New York, 17 in Pennsylvania, seven in New Jersey, 10 in Virginia, eight in Maryland, and four in Massachusetts, as mentioned.