Wegmans, Nugget Markets Rank High on Fortune List

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Wegmans, Nugget Markets Rank High on Fortune List

The latest edition of Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list is now online, and the food retailers that made the cut are the usual suspects, starting with Wegmans Food Markets and Nugget Markets, which both cracked the top 10.

Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans, who slid down two places from last year's No. 3 to this year's No. 5 was cited for its policies of allowing employees to buy gift cards of up to $250 at a 10 percent discount to help defray food costs, and the rollout of free yoga classes at its stores.

Notes CEO Danny Wegman, "With the challenging economy, being a great place to work is the best way we can take care of our customers," in keeping with the company's business philosophy of taking care of associates so that they will, in turn, take care of customers. Wegmans has appeared among the top five on the raking for five straight years, and has made the list for 12 years in a row.

Woodland, Calif.-based Nugget Market, which this year rose two spots to snag the No. 10 spot, got the nod because, as Fortune puts it, "[s]ales have yet to slump at this crazy-fun supermarket chain, which in 81 years has never had a layoff." The company also plaudits for its health care benefits and encouragement of employees to achieve an appropriate work/life balance.

"Without question, our associates are the force behind all of our successes, and I'm honored to have each and every one of our associates on our team," president/CEO Eric Stille told the Woodland Daily Democrat. "Because all 1,500 associates are valued family members, our highest priority is to ensure a fun, supportive, and exceptional workplace experience." The paper noted that Nugget first entered the list in 2006, at No. 33, and then jumped to No. 13 in 2007 and No. 12 in 2008.

Further down in the ranking, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market came in at No. 22 -- six places lower than its 16th-place spot in 2008 -- due to its young, enthusiastic workforce, of whom 28 percent are under the age of 25. Norwalk, Conn.-based Stew Leonard’s made No. 53 (a precipitous plunge from its No. 26 ranking in 2008) on the strength of its top brass staging a two-hour "road show" at the company's four supermarkets to assure employees that their jobs were secure and benefits would not be cut. Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets edged up three spaces from last year to claim No. 88, on account of its status as the nation's largest employee-owned company, which last years gave its employees an average stock allocation of 126 shares worth $2,608.

The Feb. 2 issue of Fortune, which contains the entire list, hits newsstands Jan. 26.