Who Owns Compare Foods: A Glimpse into the Leadership and Vision of Omar Jorge
Compare Foods, a prominent supermarket chain specializing in Latino products and international flavors, has been making waves in the grocery industry. But who owns Compare Foods, and what drives its success? Let’s take a closer look at the leadership behind this supermarket giant and its future prospects.
Omar Jorge: The CEO and Chairman
At the helm of Compare Foods Supermarkets and the Aurora Grocery Group is Omar Jorge. He serves as the CEO of Compare Foods and Chairman of Aurora Grocery Group, which acts as an umbrella holding company for Compare Foods and other subsidiaries. A second-generation grocer, Omar has carried on his family’s legacy, partnering in Compare Foods and leading the Aurora Grocery Group. His involvement extends beyond the company as he actively participates on the boards of the Food Marketing Institute, the Carolina Food Industry Council, and the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association.
Individual Ownership within the Group
While Compare Foods operates approximately 45 stores across the country, each supermarket within the group is individually owned by an Aurora member. This decentralized ownership structure allows for a balance of local influence and centralized support, fostering a sense of ownership among store operators while benefiting from the collective strength and resources of the Aurora Grocery Group.
This unique ownership model has enabled Compare Foods to maintain a level of authenticity and local relevance in each of its locations while still providing customers with the benefits of a larger, well-organized supermarket chain. The individual owners have the flexibility to cater to the specific needs and preferences of their local communities, ensuring that Compare Foods is more than just a supermarket chain—it’s a valued member of each neighborhood it serves.
Specialization and Growth
Compare Foods’ journey to success has been marked by its specialization in Latino products and its dedication to importing a wide range of items from Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. These unique offerings have set Compare Foods apart and attracted a devoted customer base that appreciates the authenticity and diversity of the products on the shelves.
One of Compare Foods’ key strengths is its focus on fresh produce and meat departments. Over the years, the supermarket has diligently worked to establish a strong reputation for quality and freshness in these departments. This commitment to providing top-quality products has extended beyond their core Hispanic customer base. More traditional American customers have also taken notice of the value and quality offered in Compare Foods’ produce and meat sections, contributing to the supermarket’s growth.
In response to the growing interest in international cuisines and flavors, Compare Foods has strategically expanded its prepared foods section. This approach aligns with the trend of consumers wanting to explore different cultures and cuisines. As cooking shows featuring various spices and recipes from around the world gain popularity, Compare Foods stands as a destination for Charlotte customers looking to source authentic ingredients.
Hispanic Grocer Finds Success Across Different Cultures“I think that the desire to experience more international flavors or cuisines or dishes is also fueling a lot of our growth,” he said.
Compare Foods offers both full meals and grab-and-go items, catering to a diverse range of customers’ needs and schedules. The stores even feature full buffet-style restaurants where customers can enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For those seeking convenience, Compare Foods also provides packaged meals that customers can grab to take home. The supermarket is attentive to changing consumer preferences and has explored the possibility of introducing meal kits in the future. While they are not available at the moment, the company is actively considering how to make meal kits work for their customers.
Embracing Technology and Online Shopping
While Compare Foods emphasizes personal relationships between employees and customers, it has also recognized the importance of embracing technology to cater to a broader customer base. The supermarket offers online shopping options with the choice of in-store pickup or delivery. This accommodates a dedicated group of online shoppers who appreciate the convenience and efficiency of these services.
“The ones that use it, use it very consistently,” Omar Jorge said. “It’s a small but very dedicated and loyal following for online.” He added that the company is investing more into online shopping to try and grow that channel and is looking at what it can do to provide a better online service.
However, Compare Foods remains committed to maintaining personal contact and has avoided the implementation of self-checkout systems and frictionless point-of-sale solutions. The company understands the importance of the community aspect of shopping in their supermarkets. They take pride in their employees’ ability to build relationships with customers, creating a sense of trust and familiarity that extends beyond a simple transaction.
“One of the things that we pride ourselves on is our employees having a relationship with our customers,” Omar Jorge explained. “We feel that it’s important for our customers to feel like they have a relationship or that they have trust with our employees. The community aspect of shopping in our supermarket is very important.”
This emphasis on personal service sets Compare Foods apart in an industry increasingly moving toward automation and self-service. The supermarket’s commitment to fostering a sense of community and customer care is a testament to its dedication to providing a unique and meaningful shopping experience.
Thriving in a Growing Economy
The growth of the Charlotte area, marked by an influx of population and construction, has provided fertile ground for Compare Foods to expand its presence. Charlotte’s economic boom has translated into increased sales for the supermarket chain, with more customers choosing Compare Foods as their go-to grocery store.
In addition to capitalizing on the economic growth, Compare Foods has actively pursued outreach strategies to attract non-Hispanic shoppers. The company aims to highlight the value of its stores by emphasizing the variety of products it carries—items that may not be found in traditional supermarkets. A considerable part of these efforts includes showcasing the extensive selection of produce and meats that Compare Foods offers.
To effectively engage potential customers, Compare Foods has harnessed the power of social media. Videos posted on platforms like Facebook and Instagram have become a successful tool in reaching out to a wider audience. The company has introduced a product of the month program, where they feature a unique product they sell, educating customers about its origins, uses, and nutritional components. The in-house chef demonstrates different recipes using the product, enabling customers to understand how to cook and use it at home.
“We teach where the product comes from, what it’s used for, what are the nutritional components of it, and we have our in-house chef do a couple of different recipes with it so you know how to cook it and use it at home,” Omar Jorge said. “When we do these videos, we see the sales on the product spike for the month, which means that people are responding to it. They’re seeing it online, it’s catching their attention and it’s actually being converted in the store with people buying that product that maybe they hadn’t heard of before.”
The feedback on these videos has been overwhelmingly positive. By educating customers and making their shopping experience more interactive and informative, Compare Foods has successfully tapped into a growing desire among consumers to explore new flavors and culinary experiences.
Navigating Labor Challenges
While the economic growth in Charlotte has brought many benefits, it has also brought its share of challenges. One notable issue has been a shortage of labor in the area, a concern seen in “We’re Hiring” and “Open Interviews” signs throughout the city. The labor shortage has made it challenging to recruit employees for the grocery stores. However, Compare Foods is not just looking for any employees; they are seeking individuals who genuinely align with the store’s values.
To create the connection between employee and customer, the employees must do their homework in learning about the store and their jobs.
“They are not just there stocking shelves; they’re actually learning about these products and understanding how they’re used and being able to help customers when they have questions about it. It’s extremely difficult right now to hire people who are willing to put that type of effort into what we request from them to do the job well. But we’re doing our best; the stores are still up and running,” Omar Jorge said.
While the company has high expectations for its employees, it also rewards those who put in the work and thrive in the culture. Compare Foods has many employees who have been with the company for several years.
“Retention is a big thing for us,” Omar Jorge said. “If we realize you have potential and are doing well, we pick up on that. We don’t let that go to waste. We make sure we let that person know we’re going to start training them for a new position so they can grow within the company and help their family more than what they are now, by having a higher income.”
This commitment to nurturing and developing their workforce not only addresses the labor shortage challenge but also contributes to the growth and success of Compare Foods. It ensures that employees are invested in their roles and their company, further enhancing the sense of community and trust that customers have come to expect.
Future Expansion Plans
Compare Foods is far from resting on its laurels. The supermarket chain is actively engaged in remodeling some of its existing stores to provide an even better shopping experience for customers. Furthermore, they are exploring opportunities to open new stores, expanding their footprint to reach even more communities.
One recent example of expansion is the opening of a new store in Spring Lake, near Fayetteville, by one of Compare Foods’ partners. While the specifics of the company’s expansion plans remain confidential, it is clear that the future looks bright for Compare Foods.
Omar Jorge’s Expertise and Vision
Omar Jorge, with his deep roots in the grocery business, has played a pivotal role in shaping the success and future of Compare Foods. His journey, from assisting around the store where his parents worked to becoming an owner and leader of the company, reflects his dedication and expertise in the industry. In 2009, he moved to Charlotte to take over his family’s store, and since then, he has significantly expanded his involvement in the company. As some of his older relatives have retired, he has bought out their stores and continues to operate them, ensuring that Compare Foods remains a family-driven enterprise.
“That’s been my trajectory,” he said.
In conclusion, Compare Foods’ remarkable success can be attributed to its unique ownership model, strong leadership, commitment to quality, and focus on community and customer relationships. By embracing technology and adapting to changing consumer preferences, Compare Foods has positioned itself as a supermarket chain ready to thrive in a dynamic and competitive industry. As they continue to grow and evolve, it is clear that the future of Compare Foods is as promising as its storied past.