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NEW YORK -- The news is out about the 100 best companies to work for, and according to Fortune magazine here, and five of them are food retailers - with two of them named among the top five.
Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. came in at No. 3, down from its No. 2 showing last year. In 2005, the retailer had ranked first on the annual Forbes list.
In a statement, c.e.o. Danny Wegman attributed the company's high rankings to its investment in people, which has resulted in "great customer service." Thousands of consumers write to Wegmans annually, begging for the grocer to set up shop in their communities, Fortune said.
Also ranking high was Austin, Texas-based natural/organic food retailer Whole Food Market, which was No. 5, vs. fifteenth last year. Fortune noted c.e.o. John Mackey's decision to cut his salary to $1 and pass up all future stock options.
The biggest gain for a grocer went to Woodland, Calif.-based Nugget Market, which leapt 20 places, to rank thirteenth. According to Fortune, the family-owned grocer maintains a low full-time turnover rate of 8.2 percent through such staff-friendly strategies as good salaries and benefits and "a rockin' end-of-year bash."
Norwalk, Conn.-based Stew Leonard's rose to No. 51 from its No. 58 perch in 2006. Fortune cited the company's profit sharing, 100 percent coverage of health insurance premiums, and promotion from within the ranks.
"The survey results are vitally important to get to the core of what is driving team member satisfaction," noted president and c.e.o. Stew Leonard Jr. in a statement. "This helps us improve in key areas that ultimately benefit our customers, too, because we've always said that you can't have a great place to shop without first making it a great place to work."
Lakeland, Fla. Publix Super Markets slipped one spot from last year, to No. 57. Fortune was particularly impressed by the company's nearly 22,000 associates over the age of 55, and that after one year all employees become stockholders.
Set to run in the magazine's Jan. 22 issue and based on such criteria as an evaluation of the policies and culture of each company, and employee opinion, the list has run in Fortune every year since 1998.