It takes a team of dedicated professionals to run the $16 billion retail cooperative behind ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite and Dearborn Market stores. Leading the procurement, marketing, logistics and technology initiatives is Chris Lane, Wakefern Food Corp.’s Executive Vice President.
Lane, a seasoned industry veteran, began his career at CVS Health after graduating with a pharmacy degree from the University of the Sciences, College of Pharmacy in Philadelphia, PA.
After eight years, he moved on to Duane Reade, a New York City-based pharmacy retail chain. He steadily climbed the ranks there, ultimately leaving to join Wakefern in 2003 as the company’s Vice President of Pharmacy.
Through a series of promotions, Lane quickly expanded his responsibilities to include Health and Beauty Care, Grocery and Commercial Bakery. With each promotion, the up-and-comer was challenged to further master the grocery and retail sides of the business. After a promotion to Senior Vice President of Wakefern’s product divisions, Lane was named as its Executive Vice President.
“The great opportunities I’ve had are a reflection of Wakefern’s culture,” Lane said. “Wakefern’s leadership is committed to developing its people — providing a broad range of experiences to help them succeed. We’re not afraid to give people opportunities when they deserve those opportunities. And as we say to our associates, ‘The rest is up to you.’”
Because grocery stores run on low profit margins, Lane and the Wakefern team continue to innovate year-over-year, looking toward new technology, institutional knowledge and the rising millennial workforce to further grow the business.
“The heartbeat of our business are the 50 families that own and operate the 300 plus stores that serve eight million customers each year,” said Lane. “These are the entrepreneurs, the risk takers that have defined Wakefern’s lasting success.”
His ability to lead this dynamic organization is one reason why the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) tapped Lane to give the prestigious keynote address at its 2017 Trade Relations Conference, scheduled for June 6 from 3:00-6:00 p.m. at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. The can’t-miss trade program will bring together the most influential players in the state’s food business, culminating in Lane’s presentation.
“We are delighted Chris Lane is giving our Keynote Address at our Trade Conference. Chris represents the future of the grocery business in the Northeast Region and his insights spotlight the direction and challenges food retailers face in today’s dynamic environment,” said NJFC President Linda Doherty.
Wakefern is the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the country and New Jersey’s largest private employer. It occupies more than 2.5 million square feet of grocery and retail warehouse space. In its most recent fiscal year, Wakefern registered $16 billion in sales. For these reasons, Lane says, “Our 50 families are grinding it out every day in this business,” referencing the company’s owners. “One of the unique things about Wakefern is that our owners keep us close to the customer, neighborhood by neighborhood, competitor by competitor.”
What also empowers Lane’s company is the work of the New Jersey Food Council, he said. In his job, he deals with any number of trade groups, but few match the Food Council’s ability to continually go to bat for grocery stores and consumers alike.
“We believe the New Jersey Food Council brings the perspective of Wakefern and our competitors and gives us a strong, loud voice in regard to the government regulations that we’re dealing with,” Lane said.
And as Lane and Wakefern have shown, challenges and change can’t simply go ignored.
Contact NJFC at 609-392-8899 to register for the event, or go to http://bit.ly/2oVHgWK