Category B: (26-199 Stores), Finalist, SMA

Sean Conlon

Giant Food
Fredericksburg, VA

There’s a mantra at Giant Food’s Store #235: “No customer leaves the store unhappy.”

That mantra was set and is modeled daily by manager Sean Conlon, who establishes goals even higher than the company norm and goes after them doggedly but cheerfully with his empowered and tight-knit team. While the sentiment is simple, ensuring shopper happiness can be complex, especially during the turbulent era of the early 2020s.

To make it happen, he starts by motivating his team through both one-on-one interactions and department huddles in which he shares his signature dynamism and good humor.  They look to him literally and figuratively, when he’s busy in the store and when he is inspiring others through communication and encouragement. Associates also look to each other, thanks to open forums where members collaborate on ideas and concerns.

Conlon's mentorships skills have lifted this store and the Giant Food organization in general. With a keen eye for talent, he moved two associates to become store managers in his district in 2022 and trained and developed six clerks to become department managers at other store locations.

In an environment that fosters productivity and performance, shoppers are provided with goods and services that meet their needs and ultimately propelled impressive results for this site. In 2022, Conlon and his team spurred an 8.08% lift in EBIT and came in $1.4 million better than their budget. This store essentially crushed it at many levels, in fact, breaking weekly sales records in dairy, produce, deli, general merchandise and HBC, grocery, bakery, pharmacy, total fresh, total non-perishable, flower shop and pharmacy. While moving a lot of product, he simultaneously decreased fresh shrink to 4.6% and reduced nonperishable shrink to 0.37%, outperforming budgets on both fronts.

His internal results are equally notable. Store #235 posted an associate engagement result of 78%, beating the average for the brand. At the same time, he was able to control labor expenses while growing sales and delivered an outstanding store productivity score of 106 percent.

With a strong foundation of team members, Conlon has been able to keep the store humming through changes and challenges. For example, as the store rolled out a new in-store pickup area, he led efforts to boost the amount of orders by more than 25%, with the pickup department netting more than $1.5 million in sales. He is also a champion for community relations, raising funds for Johns Hopkins Children’s Cancer Foundation, the USO and Lend a Hand for Hunger Campaign, among other causes, and overseeing food donation initiatives.

As for keeping customers happy, it sure seems that they are: this store scored 95% for cashier friendliness, 89% for helpful employees, 86% for overall satisfaction and 89% for overall service.

“Sean’s personality cascades throughout his store. He is an extremely competitive person and strives to be the best at whatever he does and in turn his team has followed his lead.”