Grocery Outlet Revives Lucky Banner

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Extreme value retailer Grocery Outlet this weekend opened its first store under the Lucky banner, in Rocklin, Calif., bringing back a venerable brand that was scuttled in 1999 after Albertsons bought its parent, American Stores.

"It's an entirely new format for Grocery Outlet," Jon Wylie, v.p. of marketing told Progressive Grocer. "We've been toying with something a little more upscale, a little more like a corner grocery store, a little less closeouts, a little more regular merchandise."

The new Lucky is a smaller, more neighborhood-oriented format, with a selling floor of 12,000 square feet. "It will have deli meats, cheeses, frozen food, produce, snacks, and candy, maybe a little more beer and wine, which in California we can do a lot with on a close-out basis," said Wylie. "But we're not going to carry a fresh meat and deli meals. And like with our traditional stores, because of the close-out nature, they'll be some brands that we have one week that we don't have the following week."

Wylie added, "When we researched the trademark, our investigation indicated that Albertsons has abandoned the name. So that's why we moved forward." The chain is on an aggressive growth regimen, which includes expanding by at least 10 percent in 2006.

In his view, the Lucky banner is not that much of a stretch for Grocery Outlet. Known and loved for its low prices, Lucky was a basic store based on solid retailing practices. The new Lucky will be similar.

"It's going to be no nonsense, no gimmicks, no cards, no membership fees -- nothing like that," Wylie said. "The Lucky store was a pretty basic store when it was around the first time. At least until the end of its time, it didn't have a lot of frills. And it was very successful."

The format as unveiled on Saturday may change a bit as Grocery Outlet tests various concepts, and the company will apply the learnings from the initial store to future Lucky additions. "We're going to tinker with it for a bit, see what customers' reactions are, and take it from there."
-- Joseph Tarnowski
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