In conversation with
Jenai Sullivan Wall, Foodland


In 1995 you took charge of Foodland as president and in 1998 as CEO, continuing the legacy of your family within the company founded by your father Maurice J. Sullivan in 1948.
What are your visions for the company?

Our core business has always been in food and groceries, and we believe we have a mission we want to be truthful to. My father always told us that we have a responsibility to support the community that supports us. We try to accomplish this by not only meeting their needs in terms of offering exceptional shopping experiences but also by giving back to make our community a better place to live.

We are the only locally owned supermarket chain with stores across the state of Hawaii. That to us is something we want to celebrate. As a local company we believe that we make our community proud if we do things that are exciting and out of the ordinary. We try our best to respond to customer wants that may not be as important to our competititors. Another way of focusing on our local heritage is to celebrate local partners and products. This is a focal point for us where we can differentiate from our competitors.

What are your current challenges?

We have more competition than we have ever had. Some of our competitors are much larger than we are and have more resources. There is also a shift to people shopping more at Costco and other big box stores and it becomes increasingly challenging to stand out from the competition. We continually challenge ourselves to improve so that customers want to keep coming back to our stores.

To date, Foodland has designed and built 5 projects with Schweitzer.
What do you appreciate about this cooperation?

We love working with the Schweitzer team. I will often tell people that we would have never been able to deliver stores like the ones we have today, without the partnership with Schweitzer. They truly understand our business, they know how people shop and they are able to draw upon that experience to work with us to have stores that excite and delight our customers. Although they are so far away, I feel like the Schweitzer team is an extension of our team and they help deliver on our goals.

Have the stores built by Schweitzer in the past met your company’s expectations in terms of sales?

Yes, they have actually exceeded our expectations in many ways What I appreciate immensely is that Schweitzer always told us when they thought we could do something differently to improve. We trusted them, made the adjustments and thus developed stores that made a positive impact.

When we opened our first store with Schweitzer, Foodland Farms Ala Moana in 2016, people were wowed. They came into the store, and it was unlike anything they expected from Foodland or and so different than any grocery store they had ever seen. It was really exciting, and we wanted to show the community that we could create something truly unique and offer a shopping experience unlike any other. Schweitzer helped us do that. Also in the next store, Foodland Farms Pearl City in 2019 and in the stores that followed, the amazement and delight of our customers showed us that we made the right choice.

Schweitzer's sister company, the retail design agency Interstore, takes the creative lead in all projects in close consultation with our clients.
Did you feel involved in the design process?

Indeed, we did, we are very vocal (laughs). The store design is one of the biggest challenges as through the design your brand comes to life. We are very protective of our brand; the stores have to reflect who we are: a local company.

How do you get a design company from across the world to embrace what’s important to you? We really felt we needed to be involved in the process. And in Interstore we found the right partner. They are always open and willing to make changes, to adjust and understand what we are trying to achieve. And together we did create stores that reflect our mission and our values.