Robert Wegman, 87, Leader in Supermarket Innovations, Dies

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: April 22, 2006

ROCHESTER, April 21 (AP) Robert B. Wegman, a pioneer of one-stop shopping who transformed his family's business, Wegmans Food Markets Inc., into one of the largest private companies in the country, died here on Thursday. He was 87.

His death was announced in a company statement; the cause was not disclosed.

The statement said that until his health had deteriorated in recent days, Mr. Wegman "kept a full schedule working in the office and enjoying his favorite pastime of visiting Wegmans stores."

In 1950, Mr. Wegman took over as president of the 90-year-old business begun by his father and uncle and over the decades introduced private-label products, laser scanning at the checkout, the Shoppers Club electronic discount program and the "Strive for 5" program, offering recipes, with nutritional analyses, that emphasized fresh vegetables and fruits.

He is credited with pioneering the concept of one-stop shopping, placing bakeries, imported foods and cafes into huge stores, along with photo labs, video departments and child play centers.

The 70 Wegmans emporiums in five states employ more than 35,000 people and posted sales of $3.8 billion in 2005.

In 2005, Wegmans was ranked No. 1 on the Fortune magazine list of the best companies to work for, with employee scholarship and health insurance programs and wages at the high end of the market. Mr. Wegman commented at the time, "This is the culmination of my life's work."

Mr. Wegman had been chairman of the company since 1969. His son, Danny Wegman, is chief executive. Colleen Wegman, Danny's daughter, became president in 2005.