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Wawa Launches ‘Sanitizing SWAT Team’

Part of retailer’s efforts to keep stores clean, adapt to pandemic changes, understand customer needs
Wawa
Photograph courtesy of Wawa

WAWA, Pa. — As part of its effort to chart a viable course through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wawa convenience-store chain has launched the Wawa Clean Force, “a dedicated and trained sanitizing SWAT team working at each store every day with one job: keeping [its] stores clean, sanitized and safe.”

The Clean Force joins Wawa’s Incident Response Team, focused on making changes and adding precautions with guidance from associates from across the company; trade organizations; experts in food science, health and wellness; and directives from federal, state and local officials. It also joins Wawa’s Sprint Teams, focused on addressing immediate issues as well as long-term challenges ranging from changes to in-store operations to understanding how consumer behaviors are changing.

In a message to the retailer’s customers titled “New Ways for Old Friends,” President and CEO Chris Gheysens said. “Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we've stayed focused on serving as an essential provider as safely as possible and giving back to our communities. And, now as some areas begin transitioning back to a new normal, many will notice that the world is looking a bit different. At Wawa, we want to make this transition as easy as possible, so we have been making a few key changes of our own to make sure we are here for you in the safest, most convenient ways possible.”

Additional protections and safety policies include all store employees wearing masks and gloves; clear plastic safety guards at check out and foodservice counters; more frequent hand-washing standards; wellness temperature checks for store employees before each shift; and more hand-sanitizer stations for customers.

Wawa is offering more digital and delivery options. It has increased door-to-door delivery services covering 95% of its market area through partners such as DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub. The chain is also encouraging customers to use the Wawa App when possible to browse menu items, order electronically and pay in advance to skip the line. It is also expanding curbside pickup.

And to address some of the challenges in its communities, The Wawa Foundation has established an Emergency Food Distribution Fund to review and distribute grants to nonprofit organizations fighting hunger. The Wawa community care and store teams have provided more than $1 million in COVID-19 hunger-relief to date and continue to distribute food and meals throughout the community to families, seniors and vulnerable individuals.

“We have learned a lot these past several weeks, and our stores have had to adjust to new ways of serving customers,” Wawa said. “We have added information about these changes to our website and invite others to learn about the key steps we have taken and lessons we have learned as a way to help our extended family make the world safer for their particular communities. Whether you are an essential provider, mom or dad, small business owner or concerned community member, we are all in this together. … When you’re ready, we’re here for you.”

Click here to view Wawa’s Serving as an Essential Provider, Insights on Retail Safety and Community Care, a detailed guide to its pandemic response and the lessons it has learned during the crisis.

  • Wawa is No. 10 on the Top 40 update to CSP’s2019 Top 202 ranking of U.S. c-store chains by number of retail outlets. CSP will release the complete 2020 list in June.

The Wawa, Pa.-based c-store chain operates in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.

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