Higher Standards, Lower Prices
|Industry||Retail (Grocery & Discount)|
|Founded||Greenville, Michigan (1934)|
|Headquarters||Walker, Michigan, U.S.|
|Number of locations||Stores: 200+
Gas Stations: 177
Car Washes: 2
Distribution Facility Complexes: 4
Manufacturing Facilities: 2
|Key people||Hendrik Meijer, Founder
Frederik Meijer, Former Chairman Emeritus
Hank Meijer, Co-CEO, Co-Chair
Doug Meijer, Co-Chair
Mark Murray, Co-CEO
J.K. Symancyk, President
|Products||Groceries, clothing, footwear, gasoline, sporting clothing, bedding, furniture, jewelry, health and beauty products, toys, sporting equipment, electronics, housewares and pet supplies|
|Revenue||est. $14.63 billion USD (2011)|
Meijer, Inc. (//) is a regional American hypermarket chain with its corporate headquarters in Walker, Michigan, in the Grand Rapids metropolitan area; the facility has a Grand Rapids, Michigan address. Founded in 1934 as a supermarket chain, Meijer is credited with pioneering the modern supercenter concept in 1962. About half of the company's 200 stores are located in Michigan (Lower Peninsula only), with additional locations in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. The chain was ranked No. 13 on Forbes' 2011 list of "America's Largest Private Companies" and 19 in Fortune's 2008 "The 35 largest U.S. private companies". Supermarket News ranked Meijer No. 12 in the 2007 "Top 75 North American Food Retailers" based on 2006 fiscal year estimated sales of $13.2 billion. Based on 2005 revenue, Meijer is the 25th-largest retailer in the United States.
- 1 History
- 2 Operations
- 3 Marketing and sponsorship
- 4 Meijer store design
- 5 "Hypermarket"
- 6 Controversies and criticism
- 7 Footnotes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Meijer was founded as Meijer's in Greenville, Michigan by Hendrik Meijer, a Dutch immigrant. Meijer was a local barber who entered the grocery business during the Great Depression. His first employees included his 14-year-old son, Frederik Meijer, who later became chairman of the company. The current co-chairmen, brothers Hank and Doug Meijer, are Hendrik's grandsons. After studying trends in the grocery industry, Meijer was among the first stores to offer self-service shopping and shopping carts. He also offered staple items, such as vinegar, at bargain prices.
In 1949, the first two Meijer stores opened in Grand Rapids, MI. "In a contest, a customer suggests the name "Thrifty" for Meijer's little Dutch boy, who becomes the corporate symbol for the next 30 years."
In 1962, the modern format of Meijer was started, with a store at the corner of 28th Street and Kalamazoo in Grand Rapids. At a size of 180,000 square feet (17,000 m2), it combined grocery shopping and department store shopping in a single large store. The store was built with six-inch (152-mm) thick floors, so should the concept fail, the nongrocery half could be converted into an indoor car dealership. New stores were built in the same manner until the mid-1970s, when an architect mentioned the extra cost to management. The second two were opened in Kalamazoo in the summer or fall of 1963.
The Thrifty Acres stores, now under the leadership of Fred Meijer, became a success and were renamed Meijer in 1986. Meijer's stand-alone grocery operations continued until the early 1990s, as the larger stores became dominant. In 1985, Forbes magazine reported Wal-Mart at the time had failed in what were then known as hypermarkets because Sam Walton and company did not understand the grocery business.
Walton launched the first Hypermart USA store in 1987, opening only four stores, the last in 1990. An article in Forbes Magazine said Meijer understood the importance of the food business, and it was not something just tacked onto a discount store. The quality of the produce is very important; poor-quality produce sold by Wal-Mart was the main reason for their lack of success. By contrast, surveys said then and now that Meijer ranks high on produce quality.
With the increasing dominance of Wal-Mart throughout the country during the 1990s and up to the present, Meijer is facing the effects of an intensely competitive retail industry. In late 2003, the company laid off 350 people from the corporate offices, distribution centers and field offices; a few months later, in January 2004, Meijer laid off 1,896 employees and managerial staff, leading to speculation that the company was losing profitability and market share. A marketing professor, Dr. Ben Rudolph of Grand Valley State University near Meijer's corporate headquarters, lambasted this move, saying they "apparently blinked" and that Meijer's "decision was driven by panic". Continuing cutbacks in 2006, the company outsourced 81 information technology positions to India.
In 2003, the company announced that all new Meijer stores would feature an entirely new format and company image, complete with a new logo intended to make the Meijer stores seem "friendly" and inviting. The midwestern company hired New York City's Rockwell Group to redesign the existing stores and establish a design for new stores. The "new theatrics" for the then-71-year-old company originally started as a "new product introduction program" until David Rockwell talked Hank and Fred Meijer into further changes. Rockwell told the Meijers the new introduction program would "work only if it was part of a new overall creative foundation based on a fresher, younger approach, encompassing architecture, interior design, and graphic design". Despite recent cutbacks, Meijer has been embarking on a new expansion plan that will increase its number of stores in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. In April 2003, Meijer selected DeVito/Verdi, an award winning advertising agency in New York, to handle its $25-million account.
In July 2007, Meijer announced to the Michigan press it would be "restructuring" its Team Leader management positions in all 181 stores, stating layoffs would be "minimal" and necessary "to handle more sophisticated products such as flat-screen TVs and high-priced wines". Their spokesperson also said the changes were "not about a labor reduction", but fitting people into the right roles. No corporate staff or hourly workers were directly affected. In August 2007, the store announced they were cutting about 500 managers (12% of existing management staff). The 500 were given severance packages, while other managers were transferred to other stores or "reassigned to different positions". A Meijer spokesperson stated the cuts were made as Meijer "tries to compete with the world's largest corporation, Wal-Mart".
On November 25, 2011 Frederik Meijer died. He was 91 years old.
Meijer stores are classified as supercenters or hypermarkets (a superstore that combines groceries and department store goods in the same store). Many stores also feature a Meijer-branded gas station and convenience store in front. Several Meijer locations feature alternative fuels, such as E85, biodiesel, and compressed natural gas.
Most Meijer stores are open 24 hours a day, 364 days a year, closing only at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and reopening at 6 a.m. on December 26.
In September 2012, Meijer was ranked No. 88 in a list of the 100 fastest-growing retail chains by the National Retail Foundation's STORES magazine.
Other Meijer concepts
In addition to the original Meijer supermarkets and hypermarkets, Meijer opened several concept stores in the 1970s and 1980s. The first were specialty clothing store chains called Copper Rivet, Sagebrush and Tansy. Each store focused on a different form of brand-name clothing: Copper Rivet sold Levi's jeans, Sagebrush sold casual wear, and Tansy sold women's clothing. All three chains usually operated in front of existing Meijer stores, or in nearby shopping centers. These clothing chains were dissolved in the 1980s as brand-name clothing became more readily available at competing retailers. Sagebrush, which at its peak comprised 71 stores, was sold off in 1988, while Copper Rivet and Tansy stores were closed as their leases expired.
In 1980, Meijer began a discount pharmacy chain called Spaar (from the Dutch word for "save"), which opened four stores in 1980 in former Meijer supermarket locations. The Spaar stores were sold to Pontiac, Michigan-based Perry Drug Stores by the mid-1980s.
One year after launching the Spaar brand, Meijer began opening Meijer Square stores, which were traditional discount department stores lacking a full grocery section. This concept also brought Meijer to Ohio for the first time, where several Twin Fair, Inc. stores were converted to the Meijer Square concept. The Ohio locations were largely sold to Zayre and Hills, but some Meijer Square stores in Michigan remained open into the 1990s. Meijer returned to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1996, after both Hills and Ames had closed all of their Ohio stores.
Meijer opened its first warehouse club store, SourceClub, in 1992. The concept proved unsuccessful in competition against Sam's Club and Costco, and all SourceClub stores were closed in 1994. The location in Fraser, Michigan was converted to a regular Meijer store, while the rest were sold off.
Meijer has also turned several stores into Flagship status stores where Grocery selection is larger and also used to test new food products.
Meijer will open two stores within the city limits of Detroit and build its first locations in Wisconsin by 2015. To help promote itself in Wisconsin, Meijer placed an ad along the outfield wall of Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, in 2014 in anticipation of the company's expansion into Wisconsin.
Marketing and sponsorship
Meijer Community Rewards
The Meijer Community Rewards program allows customers who make purchases with cash, debit card or a Meijer Credit Card to designate groups such as schools, religious organizations or other nonprofits to receive a portion of the total price paid as a charitable donation.
Participants who sign up can choose up to three nonprofit organizations participating in the program to receive the donations from their shopping trips. When a Meijer Rewards card is scanned at checkout or if a participating Meijer Credit Card is used to pay for the purchase, 0.5% of the transaction for cash or debit or 1% if paid with a Meijer Credit Card is donated to the designated organizations.
Notable donations and actions
As a philanthropist, Fred Meijer's most significant contribution has been the land and sculpture collection for the 132-acre (53 ha) Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In the mid-1980s, Meijer donated an undisclosed amount of money to GVSU towards the construction of new studios for the GVSU PBS station, WGVU, which continues to broadcast from the Meijer Public Broadcast Center.
A section of the Berlin Wall stands in the Meijer Lobby of the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, donated by Frederik Meijer on its 10th anniversary and dedicated by President Ford on September 6, 1991.
In July and August 2004, Fred Meijer personally offered a donation of $25 million and property which included a former golf course near Grand Rapids' East Beltline to fund a relocation and expansion of the historic John Ball Zoo. However, voters voted against the proposal and Meijer retracted the offer.
The Meijer Foundation donated $1 million to Michigan's White Pine Trail State Park for improvements. The donation carried a stipulation that the state must name the trail the "Fred Meijer White Pine Trail". The state parks department eventually accepted the donation, but the decision created a controversy over naming rights for private donations to public parks.
Grand Rapids' downtown Civic Theatre, now renamed the Meijer Majestic Theatre, had a $10-million renovation, thanks in large part to donations by Fred Meijer, as well as Grand Action, a Grand Rapids-based community improvement organization. The name Meijer Majestic Theatre reflects both the original name of the 103-year-old theatre and Fred Meijer's philanthropy.
In 2006, Meijer donated money to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to create the paid position called the Frederik Meijer Chair of Dutch Language and Culture. The previously chair was unpaid. It is currently held by Dr. Henk Aay, and its purpose is to promote interest in the Netherlands and Michigan's Dutch cultural heritage.
Meijer has been involved in sponsorship in the IndyCar Series for several years. They were associate sponsor on the #26 Andretti-Green Racing entry driven by Marco Andretti. They have a presence in NASCAR, as well, sponsoring the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway.
Meijer store design
Meijer stores are typically designed with the supermarket section to one side and the general merchandise section to the other side. The chain's stores are almost always constructed from the ground up, with very few Meijer stores having been converted from other retailers. Exceptions include the Lincoln Park, Michigan store, which is a former Super K-Mart, the Traverse City, Michigan and Sterling Heights, Michigan stores, both of which were former Grant City stores, the Fraser, Michigan location, which Meijer converted from its failed SourceClub concept store, the Newark, Ohio location, which is one of the stores Meijer purchased from Twin Fair, and the Portage, Indiana store, which is also a former Super K-Mart.
Some stores built in the 1970s and 1980s included a balcony, containing service tenants such as a barber shop and nail salon. Until the late 1990s, McDonald's restaurants also operated inside Meijer stores, primarily in those with balconies; in addition, the first stores in the Detroit area featured a short-lived fast food concept called Thrifty's Kitchen. Most stores feature a sit-down café, while some also feature a Starbucks coffee shop.
Early in the 1990s, Meijer developed new integrated prototypes for their rollouts. One example was the "whimsical" design prototype introduced with the 1994 expansion into Indiana. Different shapes and roofing designs created the facade of the building. Most notable was the yellow pineapple constructed from yellow ceramic brick and glass blocks. The different shapes on the facade were to introduce Meijer to Indiana as a "store of discovery".
Also notable was the use of a large translucent wall above the grand concourse facing the registers. This allowed natural light to filter into the area above the registers without actual windows. Another feature of these stores was the introduction of grey concrete panels and silver framing on windows and doors.
The Presidential prototype evolved out of the mid-1990s prototype. The logo was moved to the center of the building. Later Meijer stores of this design introduced the Meijer Fresh logo with the standard Meijer logo and a large cursive "Fresh" on the right of the Meijer name. These logos are currently being phased out, with the lower case "meijer" (in red) with blue dots over the 'i' and 'j'.
Meijer is credited with being the first hypermarket store in the US, combining a multitude of merchandise under one roof, though rarely acknowledged as such. The concept of a hypermarket has been credited to stores in Europe, most often Carrefour. This may be attributed to Meijer's being a regional chain, rather than expanding internationally, and using the term "supercenter" rather than "hypermarket" when they opened the first Thrifty Acres in 1962. Most US hypermarkets were started at later dates. Meijer describes itself as a grocery chain that added general merchandise to their grocery stores in 1962. The Meijers are very private people and would not talk to Forbes for a 1995 comparison to Hypermart USA and Kmart's American Fare failed hypermarket concepts.
Meijer is not to be confused with the Portland, Oregon-based Fred Meyer chain (now a subsidiary of Kroger). The two similarly named retailers operate similar stores. Fred Meyer's first multiple department store opened in Portland's Hollywood District in 1931.
Controversies and criticism
In February 2007, Meijer was involved in an effort to recall the elected officials of Acme Township in Grand Traverse County, because of the officials' reluctance to allow a new store along M-72 within the rural township. Meijer retained Seyferth, Spaulding and Tennyson, a Grand Rapids public relations firm, to help orchestrate the recall effort. As of January 2008, a criminal investigation was underway by the Michigan State Police into the legality of the scheme.
Records indicate the PR firm retained by Meijer had arranged a meeting with a small nonprofit organization which favored the Meijer store, but had not yet formally taken a position on the recall. With the persuasion of the PR firm, the organization, known as the "Acme Taxpayers for Responsible Government", formed a recall committee and began to promote the recall election. Seyferth researched the plausibility of a recall, wrote justification for the recall and oversaw the agenda for the meeting with Acme Taxpayers. The PR firm revised the organization's website and logo, devised talking points and campaign literature, and wrote ghost letters to Traverse City newspapers. The recall committee did not disclose any of the PR firm's assistance, or its affiliation with Meijer. As of January 2010[update], the case is still ongoing.
Treatment of LGBT community
In 2006, 2007, and again in 2008 Meijer scored an 8% on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, which the HRC calls "a measure of how U.S. companies and businesses are treating gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors." Specifically, the HRC claims Meijer does not offer "even minimal benefits or workplace protection for gay employees" and lists it as a consistently gay-unfriendly company. Meijer was one of only three companies out of over 500 graded to receive this extremely low score. Meijer's score did improve on the 2009 index, after the company amended its nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation, but its 15% score still stands in contrast to the much higher 2009 ratings of its other retail and grocery rivals, such as Macy's Inc. (100%), Sears Holdings Corporation (100%), Whole Foods Market (90%), Target Corporation (100%), Kroger (75%) and Walmart (40%). Meijer did see its score rise once again, to 20%, in 2010. Meijer raised their score to 25% in 2013.
Firing of a Christian employee
The federal government sued Meijer on behalf of a former employee for violating her civil rights by firing her because she would not work on Sundays. Debra Kerkstra was fired in 2001 for refusing to work on Sunday because of religious convictions. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accused Meijer of religious discrimination, and Meijer settled the case after paying $22,000 to Kerkstra and agreeing to implement procedures to prevent repeat occurrences.
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- [dead link]
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- [dead link]
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