Anthony Hucker became president of Giant Food just over a year ago, taking the reins of the Baltimore area's biggest supermarket chain.
Since then he has overseen construction of several new stores; negotiated on behalf of the company to reach agreement on a new contract for unionized cashiers, meat cutters, and produce and deli workers; advocated for store food drives to benefit the Maryland Food Bank; and worked to maintain the grocer's No. 1 position in the market. Landover-based Giant employs 22,000 and operates 171 stores in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C, and Delaware.
Grocery chains have come and gone over the years in the Baltimore area, and competition has intensified from mass discounters such as Walmart. How has Giant Food managed to survive and maintain a top market share spot?
Since our company was founded in this region in 1936, Giant's No. 1 priority has always been to take care of the customer. We continuously engage in dialogue with our customers to better understand their needs, wants and expectations. In addition, for more than seven decades, Giant Food has been integrated into local communities throughout the Baltimore area. We have a long legacy of supporting local nonprofit organizations, including the Maryland Food Bank and Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore, which very much resonates with our customers. We've always understood we have a responsibility to give back to the many communities that have supported us over the years.
You have a diverse retailing background, as a food retail stock analyst covering European companies, a member of the start-up team for Aldi/Trader Joe's in the U.K., a business development executive with Walmart in the U.S. What are some ideas from those experiences you have brought to Giant or plan to bring to the company in the near future?
I bring a global perspective of retailing to Giant Food, which will help us market more effectively to an increasingly diverse customer base across the Baltimore and Washington area. I've also been able to leverage my experience to bring more processes, which will help us gain more efficiency across all areas of our business. Another goal is continued investment in our people and ensuring our associates reflect the diverse communities we serve. Ultimately, this will enable us to offer our customers even greater quality, value and service over the coming months and years.
How did you get into the food retailing business?
I'm fond of saying I am a grocer at heart. I started working in the grocery business when I was 16 as a produce clerk in Wales, and I've had a passion for food retailing ever since. I love that it's a business focused on people, and I am invigorated working with people who are committed to providing outstanding customer service and delivering quality products. I'm continuously amazed by the commitment of people working in the grocery industry to meet every challenge and exceed expectations.
Where and how have you focused your time and efforts recently? How much time do you spend in the stores?
Since I started with Giant last year, I've spent my time getting to know our store associates who serve our customers every day, as well as learning the history of this great company and the 76-year legacy Giant has in the Mid-Atlantic region. I've also focused on making sure we execute the business fundamentals to perfection so we continue to offer our customers exceptional value and convenience. I'm especially proud of my team for opening three new stores in the Baltimore area over the past eight months.
I spend an incredible amount of time in stores listening to our associates and customers early in the morning, late in the day, in the evening and over the weekend. It really resonates with me when a customer says, "That's my Giant!" Sometimes I'll pop in a store after a weekend workout to shop, experiencing Giant as our customers do. The customer is the boss, and our associates are on the front lines to provide exceptional quality, value, convenience and service.
How do you spend time away from work?
The limited time I do spend away from work I spend with my family. We're new to the area so we've enjoyed traveling locally and visiting area museums and other local landmarks. As a family, we believe it's important to give back to the community. Last Christmas, we volunteered at a soup kitchen in Washington, D.C., and look forward to volunteering together again this year. We've even had the opportunity to attend several Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens games. Baltimore is such a great sports town!
Previous job: Corporate vice president, Walmart
Born: Caerleon, Wales
Education: University of Manchester, bachelor of arts in retailing
Residence: Arlington, Va.
Family: Wife, Connie; daughter, Erin, 16; son, Houston, 15.
Hobbies: Attending sporting events, travel, running
See more business leaders interviewed by The Baltimore Sun Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun