Bi-Lo Unveils Expansion Plans in Chattanooga Market

GREENVILLE, S.C. - Southeastern supermarket operator Bi-Lo/Bruno's here opened one of its latest formats yesterday in the Chattanooga, Tenn. market, and said it plans further development in the region as part of a capital investment of approximately $37 million.

The new 48,500-square-foot store replaces a Bi-Lo located at 4925 Dayton Boulevard in the neighborhood of Red Bank. Features of the supermarket include expanded organic products, fresh sushi daily, expanded seafood variety, and custom-cut meats. There will be a hot bar in the deli area with cafe seating, an olive bar, and hot wings bar.
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The new pharmacy will have a drive-through window for customer convenience. Meanwhile, the store will include a Wellspot Health and Wellness Center, which is staffed by family nurse practitioners who can provide treatment and diagnosis for routine conditions. Other services provided at Wellspot include prescriptions as needed, diagnostic tests, immunizations, vaccinations, physicals, illness management, and wellness counseling.

The store will be open 24 hours a day and employ 100 people.

Bi-Lo/Bruno's president and c.e.o. Dean Cohagan said yesterday the company is also planning to open a Super Bi-Lo on Hixson Pike at Clear Creek Road, the first of the new format to be built in Tennessee. The Super Bi-Lo is the latest prototype for Bi-Lo supermarkets, offering an expanded selection of grocery items, more varieties of organic and natural foods, full-service meat and seafood markets, and movies rentals via a kiosk. The store's interior will feature a new, bright decor, including a blue ceiling and clouds over the produce department to give it the ambiance of an open-air market.

The Hixson Pike store will also include a coffee shop, sushi, and a full-service bank, as well as a drive-through pharmacy and Wellspot Health and Wellness Center. Ground will be broken in the first quarter, 2007, with completion in November 2007.

In remarks prior to the ribbon cutting, Cohagan outlined plans for the company's growth in the Chattanooga area for the remainder of 2006 and 2007. "We have been completing a lot of market research, identifying the best sites and working on store designs to serve our customers and build our company," he said. "And now we're ready and eager to vigorously pursue new growth opportunities in our core markets. This is a new era for Bi-Lo."

In addition to the $9.5 million Red Bank supermarket investment, the Super
Bi-Lo project on Hixson Pike will represent a total capital investment of $11.6 million. Cohagan also announced plans to remodel its stores in Dayton and Signal Mountain, plus the acquisition of property at the intersection of Ooltewah-Ringgold Road and East Brainerd Road for a future store.

Bi-Lo is pursuing at least three other major remodeling projects, the locations of which will be announced in the months ahead, Cohagan said. In total, the combination of 2006 and 2007 store projects represents a capital investment of approximately $37 million in the Chattanooga region.

Bi-Lo is the market leader in Chattanooga, both in terms of number of stores and market share. With 36 stores in the Chattanooga DMA, the chain has roughly a 37 percent market share as reported by Metro Market Studies in their 2006 Grocery Distribution Analysis and Guide.

Other supermarkets that operate in the region include Food Lion, Aldi, and Wal-Mart. Publix Super Markets is hoping to break into the market as well.

Bi-Lo/Bruno's operates a total of 308 supermarkets in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama and employs 23,500 people.
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