How Wawa makes money: $10 billion in sales and other fun facts

Customers spend nearly double the industry average per visit.

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Danya Henninger / Billy Penn
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Not like it’s news to people around Philly, but heaping praise upon Wawa has never been so trendy.

In the past month alone, the chain earned the nod for “best sandwich shop in America” in a national survey, was called “the world’s most beloved convenience store” by Chowhound and saw its bathrooms voted second-best in the entire U.S.

Wawa is big, and growing fast: this week marked the launch of its 800th location, and dozens more are slated to open this year, including the relatively swanky Sixth and Chestnut outpost that’s being called the new flagship.

Because the chain is privately owned, many of the numbers behind its success aren’t readily available to the public. However, a 4000-word profile in the June 2018 issue of Inc. reveals several tidbits about the financial workings of the family-owned business..

Courtesy of the magazine, here are 10 fun facts about how Wawa makes money.

1) The company brings in $10 billion a year

The $10 billion in annual revenue Wawa claims — up from $9.1B reported in 2016 — puts it not that far behind industry leader 7-Eleven, where more than 10 times the number of U.S. stores (around 8,400) bring in a reported $29 billion each year.

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Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

2) Goods are cheap, but people buy more stuff

Wawa told Inc. its average customer spend is $7.42 per visit, a full 80 percent more than the industry average of $4.12. That’s despite maintaining a reputation for being inexpensive, especially in urban stores, which carry the same prices as those in the ‘burbs, per CEO Chris Geysans.

3) Stores serve 800 million customers annually

It’s nothing like McD’s 69 million a day, but 800 million is a lot of people, especially since the chain only operates across six states plus D.C.

4) The workforce is more than 30,000 strong

More than 30,000 people are currently employed by the Delco-headquartered operation, and the workforce swells by an additional 5,000 in the summer, per Inc.

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Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

5) Staff owns nearly half the company

Wawa is 41 percent employee-owned, and some say its employee stock ownership plan is second largest ESOP in the country. When it was expanded in 2003, shares were worth $900. They’re now worth around $10,000, Inc. reports, and “many” workers are retiring as millionaires.

6) CEOs still consult the owning family

After being founded in 1964 and led by members of the Wood family for decades, Wawa first hired an outside CEO in 2005. He was succeeded by a second outsider, Ghysens, in 2013 — but Ghysens still regularly consults with former CEO and current company chairman Dick Wood.

7) The Wood family has deep Philly roots

Good one for trivia buffs: the Wood family came to this region around the same time as William Penn — Quaker Richard Wood is thought to have landed in Philadelphia back in 1682.

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Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

8) HQ has a giant test kitchen

Touchscreen ordering was rolled out in 2002, decades before DIY kiosks became a fast-casual staple, and food has become a major focus — as evidenced by the gian 10,000-square-foot test kitchen at its new Red Roof headquarters.

9) The company is moving beyond gas and cigarettes

The chain is deliberately moving away from staples like gas and cigarettes — the new store coming to Independence Mall won’t sell cigs at all. “When a convenience store doesn’t sell cigarettes and gas,” Ghysens told Inc., “that begins not to be a convenience store.”

10) Broad and Walnut is a successful proof of concept

Built in just 85 days so it could open in time for Pope Francis’s 2015 visit, the Broad and Walnut store was a test of that urban-centric strategy — one with positive results. Per the article, both sales and volume at that location are running 50 percent higher than originally expected.

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