About Giant Food Stores

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About Giant Food Stores

A Company of Growth and Opportunity

The GIANT story began in 1923 when David Javitch opened a small meat market in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. At that time, he did not envision the great Company that would grow from the humble beginnings of a two-man butcher shop called the Carlisle Meat Market.

David, otherwise known as D.J., built his business on the simple premise of the “best products at the fairest price.” He spent his waking hours in the store and his children were raised there. His store prospered during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1936, D.J.’s entrepreneurial spirit took over when he decided to take a chance on a new business venture.

He purchased a store in Lewistown, Pennsylvania which he named the GIANT Shopping Food Center. It was a big change from the original Carlisle Meat Market because the new store offered customers the opportunity to purchase their dry goods and perishables under one roof: a new concept at that time. It was also a very modern store, considering that it opened only three years after the Great Depression. The GIANT Shopping Food Center was a great success and based on that, a decision was made to expand the Carlisle store from a basic meat market into a full-fledged grocery store.

David Javitch was no stranger to adversity. Prior to purchasing the Lewistown store, he purchased a store in Hagerstown, Maryland that opened and closed within the same month. Though a short-lived and costly venture, it provided a valuable learning experience to the budding entrepreneur. In addition, his main store in Carlisle was destroyed by fire, and the Lewistown store was completely flooded on two separate occasions.

After each setback, D.J. started over, adding more features for his customers. The Carlisle store was the most modern of its kind with features like a parking lot, baggers, and outside lighting for the safety of Associates and customers.

The stores continued to flourish in the 1950s as some serious decisions about the business were made. Shopping malls became a new American experience with the population moving outside of the cities and into the suburbs.

David Javitch was never one to be timid in business situations. As a result, the Company embarked on a plan of steady growth, opening new stores in suburban areas. In 1968, the ninth store opened in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with Lee Javitch, David’s son, serving as President of GIANT Food Stores.

In 1970, a strategic decision was made to compete with larger, regional, supermarket chains. GIANT’s growth accelerated with the purchase of the MARTIN’S chain in Hagerstown, Maryland. It was now becoming more difficult for the Javitch family to personally supervise the operation of the expanding Company.

In 1972, Nick Riso joined the Company as Vice President of Sales and Operations. Nick assisted the Javitch family in bringing about their desired growth plan. A new merchandising effort began with the introduction of “Everyday Low Prices.” This concept would begin a span of 35 consecutive years of record sales and earnings. In 1974, David Javitch passed away, and Lee established the David Javitch Memorial Scholarship Fund to benefit children of GIANT Associates.

David Javitch’s legacy to the Company was his foresight and compassion towards people, namely our Associates and customers. He strongly believed in:

* Providing outstanding service and value to the customer,
* Creating a positive work environment for our Associates,
* Participating as an active member in the communities we serve.

These same philosophies remain the guiding principles for GIANT Food Stores.

As the decade of the 70s closed, 24 stores were in operation. Nick Riso was appointed President, and Lee Javitch assumed the position of Chairman. As the 80s approached, the Company had grown to a workforce of 3,400. In 1981, the Javitch family made a key decision to perpetuate the growth and financial stability of the Company as GIANT entered into an agreement with Ahold, a food retailing business based in the Netherlands. Ahold’s roots dates back to 1887 with the Albert Heijn grocery chain in Holland serving as their anchor business. They are now a multi-faceted international Company involved in the manufacturing and retailing of food and other goods. At the time of the agreement, GIANT was operating 29 supermarkets.

Throughout the 80s, GIANT continued to grow and prosper. In 1988, Allan Noddle became President of GIANT Food Stores, as the 50th GIANT opened. Allan was known for his dedication to the business, and he served as a dynamic spokesperson in GIANT’s radio and television advertising campaigns.

The complete modernization of virtually all stores occurred throughout the late 1980s to mid-1990s as remodels, expansions, and interior upgrades were completed. In addition, many new customer conveniences were added including in-store banks, pharmacies, Chinese kitchens, coffee shops, photo processing, and dry cleaning services. By the end of 1996, GIANT had grown to 75 stores.

In 1997, GIANT merged with Edwards Super Food Stores, another Ahold-owned Company. Upon completion of the merger, a new GIANT was born, operating two divisions with 23,000 Associates in six states including Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Additionally, Tony Schiano became President and CEO of GIANT.

The new millennium brought about additional change within the Organization as Edwards transitioned into another Ahold-owned Company, Stop & Shop. With the major change, GIANT concentrated on its expansion plans and opened stores in new market areas such as Altoona, Pennsylvania. That same year, GIANT’s corporate office welcomed Ahold Financial Services (AFS).

AFS is located in the GIANT corporate office building in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. AFS began operating in 1999 as a shared service center responsible for accounting processing for all of the Ahold USA retail operating companies.

As 2000 approached, GIANT Food Stores offered extensive one-stop shopping conveniences for our customers including gas stations, expanded deli and bakery departments, and wide array of organic produce selections.

In 2001, GIANT formed an alliance with another Ahold Company, Tops Markets in Buffalo, New York. That partnership lasted until Ahold divested Tops in 2007.

At the stores, EasyScan (self-checkout registers) were implemented to provide GIANT customers with enhanced convenience. As GIANT focused on major objectives, future changes were on the horizon.

The Company experienced phenomenal success in 2002. A new marketing campaign with the slogan “Quality. Selection. Savings. Everyday.” spread GIANT’s message of delivering the best products and selection at the best value all of the time. This message carried through as GIANT celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2003. Associates across the Organization realized the importance of corporate virtues – the same virtues David Javitch instilled in his business in 1923.

In October 2005, the first ever GIANT Super Food Store opened in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. The GIANT Super Food Store was a breakthrough in retailing with prepared meals, a specialty cheese shop, a childcare center, a dry cleaner, EasyShop self-scan, EasyShop Scan self-checkout, a nutritionist on duty, a cooking school, a wi-fi café, Cook’s Corner, Staples, a Hallmark shop, and a Nature’s Promise Natural and Organic Marketplace.

At the end of 2006, GIANT acquired 13 former Clemens stores and one FoodSource in the greater Philadelphia market, and in early 2007, Carl Schlicker, former Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, was appointed President and CEO of GIANT Food Stores, LLC.

In 2008, GIANT opened its largest store in Company history. At 97,000 square feet, the GIANT Super Food Stores in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania provides exceptional products and services to GIANT shoppers throughout greater Philadelphia.

Also in 2008, Carl Schlicker was promoted to the role of President and CEO of another Ahold Operating Company: Stop & Shop. Sander van der Laan was appointed to the role of President and CEO of Giant Food Stores, LLC. Sander is from the Netherlands and previously worked at one of Ahold’s European retailers, Albert Heijn.

GIANT’s future is promising with many opportunities for continued growth and success. Since 1923, evidence of the Company’s growth and success is a tribute to the legacy of David Javitch. Most importantly, GIANT’s history has been written by many phenomenal Associates who contributed through their hard work and dedication. That same tradition continues today through the vision and efforts of our current Associates who collectively continue to focus on the Organization’s promising future.

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