Bi-Lo Breaks Ground for First Super Bi-Lo in Chattanooga

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Bi-Lo Breaks Ground for First Super Bi-Lo in Chattanooga

MAULDIN, S.C. -- Regional grocer Bi-Lo yesterday broke ground for a new Super Bi-Lo that will be its first in the Chattanooga market, where it is fighting for the market share lead against Wal-Mart.

The company also shared details about its capital plans for the region over the next 18 months, and said it plans to convert more of its conventional Bi-Lo units there to the Super Bi-Lo format.

The new 48,500-square-foot Super Bi-Lo store in Chattanooga is expected to be completed in early 2008. It represents an investment in excess of $9 million, president and c.e.o. Brian Hotarek said at a press conference yesterday.

Super Bi-Lo was designed to provide many of the conveniences of one-stop shopping that busy families are looking for, including a wider variety of products. In keeping with customer requests, it will feature an expanded organic selection in produce, fresh sushi daily, more seafood variety, and Certified Angus Beef in the meat department. Additionally, most Super Bi-Lo locations will include a WiFi cafe and a coffee shop.

The pharmacy at Super Bi-Lo will have a drive-through window for customer convenience. The store will also include an in-store Wellspot Health and Wellness Center, which offers treatment and diagnosis for routine medical conditions.

Hotarek outlined plans for another new Super Bi-Lo that's slated for construction at Hixson Pike and Clear Creek Road. Ground will be broken in late summer for the Hixson Pike location, with completion expected in mid-2008, he said. This 57,000-square-foot store represents an investment of approximately $11 million.

Hotarek also revealed for the first time the company's new direction in converting conventional Bi-Lo supermarkets to the Super Bi-Lo format.

"Super Bi-Lo is about more than store size," said Hotarek. "Super Bi-Lo stores will offer shoppers a wider selection throughout the store, and they will feature a new interior store design. All of the fresh departments will have extended service hours.

In addition to the Hixson Pike and Ooltewah-Ringgold Road locations, Hotarek announced the planned conversions of four other Bi-Lo locations. The supermarkets at 7804 East Brainerd Road, 703 Signal Mountain Road, and 9213 Lee Highway in Ooltewah will undergo upgrades and improvements to convert the stores to Super Bi-Lo specifications. The Red Bank store opened last fall will also be upgraded to a Super Bi-Lo. (The Red Bank location was profiled as Progressive Grocer's Feb. 1, 2007 Store of the Month.)

"We will continue to develop plans to convert more of our Chattanooga area stores to the Super Bi-Lo format," Hotarek said. "Investing in these locations will help us to keep the Bi-Lo image of freshness that our shoppers tell us is so important."

Hotarek said the chain is looking at other potential sites to further serve the needs of its greater Chattanooga customers. "Today's announcement, coupled with the opening of our Red Bank store in October of 2006, represents a commitment by Bi-Lo to the Chattanooga community of more than $40 million in capital investment during this two-year period."

Bi-Lo operates 227 supermarkets in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Tennessee. The chain's owner, private equity firm Lone Star Funds, recently said that it is seeking a buyer for the retailer.