Hannaford Eager to Expand in Massachusetts

SCARBOROUGH, Maine -- Almost a year after acquiring Leominster, Mass.-based Victory Supermarkets for $175 million, Hannaford Bros. Co. here is interested in further growth in the state.

Hannaford spokeswoman Caren Epstein confirmed to Progressive Grocer that the company has a goal of growing its business in Massachusetts, after reports in the local press alluded to the strategy.

In a recent interview with the MetroWest Daily News, Rick Meyerkopf, v.p. of retail operations for Hannaford's central division, said the chain is "committed to Massachusetts. We really like being here so we have our eyes and ears open. We feel like we've been warmly received and we're interested in doing more business here."

Meyerkopf's comments came after Hannaford's parent company, Belgium-based Dalhaize Group, told investors that the company might soon look for more acquisitions in Massachusetts.

According to Meyerkopf, any acquisitions by the company would probably be single grocery stores or small regional supermarket chains, although he declined to name any specific targets. Additionally, Hannaford may take over empty retail spaces or construct new stores.

"We don't have any imminent plans," said Meyerkopf, "but we like to have open dialogue and communication and awareness of the marketplace."

Hannaford had only six Massachusetts stores until it acquired Victory locations in the state, upping its Massachusetts store count to 23. The grocer also intends to open two new stores in Taunton and Easton, Mass. in early 2006 and additional location in Lowell in late 2006. Hannaford is also planning a major remodeling project at the Marlborough store next year.

Hannaford has upgraded the technology section and expanded some food sections in former Victory stores, as well as adding its "Nature's Place" organic food section in five of the locations. Pharmacies will also added in as many stores as possible, noted Meyerkopf, who explained that some plazas with Hannaford stores already feature a pharmacy with lease terms that bar a supermarket-based drug store in close proximity.
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