El Super is a large Hispanic American supermarket chain based in Paramount, California. The company currently operates over 50 stores, the vast majority of which are located in Southern California. However, El Super is not exclusively found in California – the grocery chain has expanded to other states in recent years.
No, El Super is not only located in California. While the bulk of El Super locations are in Southern California, the grocery chain has stores in Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico as well.
El Super’s California Presence
El Super has a very strong foothold in California, especially in the Greater Los Angeles Area. The company was founded in California in 1989 and initially focused its expansion efforts within the state. Today, El Super has over 45 stores located across Southern California from San Diego to Santa Barbara.
Some of the major regions and cities where El Super stores can be found in California include:
- Los Angeles County – El Monte, Pico Rivera, South Gate, Los Angeles
- Orange County – Anaheim, Santa Ana, Stanton
- Inland Empire – Fontana, Riverside, Moreno Valley
- San Diego County – Chula Vista, National City, San Diego
- Ventura County – Oxnard, Simi Valley
El Super tailors its stores to the local Hispanic community, offering Mexican and Latin American staples as well as products popular with Hispanic-American consumers. Its stores in California aim to reproduce the shopping experience of markets in Mexico and Latin America with large produce and meat sections, pinatas and festive decorations, and restaurants serving authentic tacos, ceviche, menudo and more.
Expansion Outside California
Although the vast majority of its locations are in California, El Super has expanded beyond its home state in recent years. El Super currently has stores in the following states:
- Nevada – El Super has 5 locations in Las Vegas and 1 in Henderson.
- Arizona – The company has 2 stores in Phoenix metro area cities like Mesa and Glendale.
- New Mexico – El Super opened its first New Mexico store in 2021 in Albuquerque.
El Super’s out-of-state expansion has focused on other states in the Southwest with large Hispanic populations who they believe will connect with the authentic shopping experience. However, their footprint outside of California is still very small compared to their presence within the state.
Plans for Further Expansion
Although the bulk of its locations are currently confined to California and a few Southwestern states, El Super may have plans to expand more broadly across the US in future years. Some insights into potential expansion:
- In 2021, El Super opened a large distribution center in Riverside, CA to support growing operations in California but also facilitate expansion to other markets.
- They have specifically mentioned interest in expanding to states like Texas, Illinois, and Florida which also have sizable Hispanic populations.
- They aim to open 8-10 new stores each year, up from historical pace of 3-5 annually.
- With a new CEO in 2021, the company is pursuing an aggressive and ambitious growth strategy.
We will likely see El Super locations pop up in many new markets in the coming 3-5 years. However, California, and Southern California in particular, will remain the grocery chain’s home base where they operate the bulk of their stores even as they expand geographically.
El Super Store Format and Offerings
El Super stores closely resemble the shopping experience of Latin American supermarkets. Some key features and offerings include:
- Large produce sections with diverse chiles, tropical fruits and vegetables
- Butcher counters with cuts of meat popular in Hispanic cuisine
- Large selection of Mexican and Central/South American brands
- Food service counters offering tacos, ceviche, tamales and more
- Bakeries making Mexican sweet breads and pastries
- Piñatas and Latin American decorations
- Spanish-bilingual staff and signage
The average El Super store is around 40,000 – 50,000 square feet in size, similar to a regular large mainstream grocery store. Larger El Super locations may include additional amenities like a hot food court, restaurant, or even on-site tortilla factory.
Key Factors in El Super’s Location Strategy
El Super is strategic in choosing locations for its stores. As a grocer catering to Hispanic consumers, there are a few key factors that influence where El Super decides to open new stores:
- Hispanic/Latino population density – They look for cities and neighborhoods with high proportions of Hispanic residents to form their core customer base.
- Competition – El Super tends to avoid areas with established Hispanic grocery competitors and instead targets regions they can be the dominant player.
- Store proximity – To optimize distribution and operations, El Super prefers building clusters of stores in certain metro areas rather than scattered standalone locations.
- Real estate availability – El Super seeks out vacant retail spaces of appropriate size on busy commercial streets.
- Growth markets – In expansion outside California, El Super has targeted rapidly growing Hispanic markets like Las Vegas and Phoenix.
By choosing locations that meet the above criteria, El Super positions itself to be the preferred grocery destination for the local Hispanic community and drive strong foot traffic and sales.
El Super’s Brand Positioning
El Super strategically positions itself as an authentic Latino and Hispanic grocery chain. Some key aspects of their brand image and messaging include:
- Playing up Latino heritage – Their branding highlights their long history of serving Hispanic communities since 1989.
- Bilingual and multicultural staff – Their employees reflect the diversity of their customers and can assist in both Spanish and English.
- Authentic food offerings – They emphasize their food products and recipes originating from Latin America and Mexico.
- Local partnerships – El Super partners with Latino vendors, food trucks and community organizations.
- Nostalgia and celebration of culture – From piñatas to festive decor, El Super aims to provide a sense of Latino culture and community.
This strategic brand positioning allows El Super to differentiate itself from mainstream grocery chains as the authentic destination for Hispanic consumers looking for a homegrown shopping experience.
Financial Performance and Outlook
As a private company, El Super does not disclose detailed financial results publicly. However, some insights into their performance can be gathered from press announcements and industry reports:
- El Super is estimated to generate around $2 billion in annual sales revenue as of 2021.
- They have invested over $100 million in new stores and renovations over the past 3 years, indicating strong and consistent growth.
- During the pandemic, El Super was considered an “essential” business and remained open, allowing them to enjoy strong sales growth while many grocers struggled.
- Opening a large distribution center in 2021 expanded their capabilities to support ambitious expansion plans in the coming years.
Backed by a loyal Hispanic customer base and their positioning as an authentic ethnic grocer, El Super appears poised for healthy growth and financial performance even in an increasingly crowded grocery market.
Impact on Local Hispanic Communities
El Super provides several key benefits to the Hispanic communities they serve:
- Improved access to desired ethnic foods and ingredients for cooking traditional dishes
- Support for Latino entrepreneurs and food vendors by selling their products
- Cultural celebration of Latino heritage through their offerings and branding
- Spanish-speaking staff and signage to break down language barriers
- Jobs for local community members at their stores
- Support for Latino nonprofits and events like holiday celebrations
Customers appreciate having a grocery store tailored to Hispanic preferences and needs rather than feeling like an afterthought at mainstream chains. For newly arrived immigrants, El Super provides a taste of home. The grocery chain is a pillar institution in the communities they serve.
Competition in the Hispanic Grocery Sector
While a clear leader, El Super faces competition from a few key players in the Hispanic grocery segment:
- Cardenas Markets – With over 50 locations, primarily in California and Nevada, Cardenas is El Super’s closest rival.
- Vallarta Supermarkets – A California-based chain with over 40 stores, mainly clustered in the Inland Empire and San Fernando Valley.
- Fiesta Mart – Large Texas-based chain with hundreds of locations in Texas, California and throughout the Southwest.
- Ohana Foods – Local Hispanic grocer in Las Vegas with 4 stores that competes with El Super’s Nevada locations.
Mainstream grocery chains like Kroger, Albertsons and Safeway also compete for Hispanic consumer spending, but lack the cultural authenticity of dedicated Hispanic chains. With continued growth, El Super aims to be the dominant brand serving Hispanic communities throughout the region.
- El Super’s roots and core operations are in California but they have stores in a few other Southwestern states.
- They operate over 50 locations currently but have plans for aggressive expansion nationally in coming years.
- El Super provides an authentic shopping environment tailored specifically to Hispanic consumers.
- They aim to strategically expand in new Hispanic markets while retaining California as their key base of operations.
- Financial trends point to ongoing growth and expansion for this niche grocer in the years ahead.
So while not exclusively a California chain, El Super’s identity is closely intertwined with the state where it originated and first found success serving the local Hispanic community.