Food Lion Opens First Bloom Concept Store

SALISBURY, N.C. - Food Lion, a subsidiary of Delhaize America, today opened the first of five Bloom pilot stores planned for 2004. The store, called, "Bloom, A Food Lion Market," is designed to test the new Bloom concept, aimed at providing a simple, uncomplicated, and hassle-free shopping experience.

The concept is the result of nearly two years of research and analysis. Recognizing that customer needs, expectations, and behaviors are changing and becoming more diverse, Food Lion created a cross-functional concept team in 2002. The team's mission was to examine customer and retail trends, identify unique opportunities for growth, and develop retail concepts to capture those opportunities. The Bloom concept and test stores are the result.

"Bloom is an extension of the Food Lion model," said Robert Canipe, Food Lion v.p. of business strategy. "Bloom will offer competitive prices, provide the freshest products, and focus on eliminating many of the hassles of shopping. Through these pilot stores Bloom will seek to create a unique identity and customer base of its own."

As an example of this new approach, everyday items, such as milk, bread, eggs, and home meal solutions, are located near the front in an intuitively designed area called Table Top Circle. Store shelves are shorter, so customers can more easily reach what they need. Frozen foods are located near the checkout area, and health and beauty care products are placed next to the store's pharmacy.

Additionally, Bloom will test some of the proven leading-edge technologies in the retail industry. The objective behind the technologies is to enhance the shopping experience and help customers find products, get information, and check out with greater ease.

For instance, information kiosks, found throughout the store, provide store maps and price checks, show where specific products are located, and offer meat and wine suggestions and recipes. A self-serve produce scale tells customers the cost of their fresh fruits and vegetables prior to checkout. Bloom even offers multiple checkout options -- regular, express, self-check, and checkout with a personal scanner that keeps of running total of items chosen.

The store also offers services to help shoppers with their busy schedules, such as a full-service pharmacy, DVD rentals, photo processing, postage stamps, gift cards, and transit tickets.

Among the products offered at Bloom are Boston Market home meal solutions. Food Lion and Boston Market Corp. announced a partnership last December, and seven Food Lion stores and each of the Bloom test stores will offer fresh, ready-to-eat, and ready-to-heat Boston Market homestyle meals.

The four other Bloom pilot stores will open later this year in the greater Charlotte area.

"Our plan is to open five pilot stores and then operate and learn from these stores. The information and experience we gain from the pilot stores, including customer feedback, will help us develop a growth strategy for Bloom," Canipe explained.
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