Save Mart Supermarkets is an even bigger wheel in the California grocery business now that it has doubled in size as a result of its acquisition of about 125 Albertsons supermarkets in Northern California and Nevada. A sponsor of the NASCAR Toyota/Save Mart 350, the grocer operates 225 grocery stores in Northern California and northern Nevada. About half of the locations house in-store pharmacies. Its supermarkets and warehouse stores operate under the Save Mart Supermarkets, S-Mart Foods, Lucky, and FoodMaxx names. Save Mart also owns distributor SMART Refrigerated Transport. CEO Robert Piccinini owns most of Save Mart, which was founded in 1952 by his father, Mike Piccinini, and uncle, Nick Tocco.
Save Mart's distribution arm, SMART Refrigerated Transport, trucks dry groceries, frozen foods, ice, and novelties to the company's own stores and those operated by other retailers. The grocery chain also owns and operates Yosemite Wholesale Warehouse in Merced. It is also a voting partner in Super Store Industries, which owns and operates a distribution center, dairy, and ice cream plant.
While the privately-owned company doesn't make its financial results public, the chain rang up an estimated $4.6 billion in sales in 2011.
Save Mart operates a variety of store formats targeting different income brackets. Its recently-launched Maxx Value limited-assortment chain and its other price-oriented banner -- the warehouse chain FoodMaxx -- cater to shoppers on tight budgets. At the high end of the market, Save Mart has also been trying out an upscale prototype with its own coffeehouse and expanded offerings of ethnic and organic foods and its popular private-label salad mix line, Fresh Favorites. The company's namesake Save Mart stores and Lucky supermarkets stake out the middle ground and conform to the more traditional supermarket format. The combination of high gas prices and California's car-dependent culture has presented an opportunity for Save Mart and its competitors to lure shoppers with discounts on gas. To drive traffic to its supermarkets, Save Mart in 2011 launched a new fuel rewards loyalty program in the Sacramento, Stockton, and Modesto markets. In partnership with Shell, Save Mart issued a new loyalty card that shoppers use to earn fuel rewards in its stores and then redeem them at Shell stations. The program arrived at a time when many shoppers are taking fewer shopping trips to save on gas. – less