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Bruce Weitz, president/CEO of Kings Super Markets, tells the Bergen Record in an interview that his short term goal is to increase same-store sales with better merchandising, product selection and pricing, and then to remodel existing stores and open new ones – and that the company expects to be twice its current size within five years. “We are looking at single-store acquisitions, and groups of two or three stores,” he tells the paper. “We are also looking at major acquisitions of other chains adjacent to our market.”

When asked if his strategy is too similar to that of the perpetually troubled A&P, Weitz demurs. “Our game plan is a little different from theirs. Everyone wants to have better-quality produce; everyone wants to have better products.

“Our tag line is, ‘From every day to fabulous gourmet – expect the unexpected.’ It's in every department. In Cresskill, for instance, you'll find yak, elk, ostrich steaks, Kobe beef. When you go into our produce department, you'll find dragon fruit, rambutan. In the deli, we carve hams off the bone, we have products flown in from Italy.

“We have also become much more competitive in pricing than the company has ever been.”

A major emphasis since Kings was purchased by an investment group from Marks & Spencer for $61.5 million has been to reconnect with shoppers who may have been disenfranchised during recent years when the company seemed to be off and on the sales block with little commitment from its British owners.

“I lived in Cresskill, so I shopped the store, and had seen the changes over the last half-dozen years, changes in strategy,” Weitz says. “They were no good for customers…This is a gem that was going nowhere, and can have a great future.

“In retail you always have to move forward. If you stay in one place, your competition will overtake you. Over the last half-dozen years, the company had fallen behind. I think a lot of the decisions that were made put the company back instead of moving it forward, whether in store service, capital expenditures, raising prices, cutting assortment…We have excellent people in the company and extraordinary locations. People in the company have been very enthusiastic about the plans, and they're really the ones to move the company forward. We can't do it without good people.”
KC's View:
We look forward to chronicling Kings’ rebirth. Watching the company struggle in the last few years has not been any fun, and we hope that Weitz has the resources and commitment to make it happen. The idea that he is seeing the store’s operations from a shopper’s perspective is one that we find heartening.