Hannaford Grabs for Share with Two New Stores

SCARBOROUGH, Maine -- Hannaford Bros. Co. here is making a bid to win over more Massachusetts shoppers with the opening of its biggest stores in Taunton and Easton, Mass. this weekend. The stores, both of which will make their debut on Saturday, measure about 56,000 square feet each.

The Northeast regional grocer increased its number of stores in the state more than threefold after it acquired 17 Victory Super Markets in 2004, making Hannaford currently the fifth-largest food retailer in Massachusetts. The new stores will include a bigger seafood section, extensive sampling, and a dining expert on hand to assist shoppers with meal ideas.

"Hannaford chose Easton and Taunton for this phase of our Massachusetts expansion because they are both growing communities where we know we can offer customers a different shopping experience from what is currently available," said Hannaford v.p. and general manager, central division Rick Meyerkopf in a statement. "These stores strengthen our presence in the southeastern part of the state and support our effort to serve communities throughout Massachusetts."

A decade ago the company tried to penetrate the Boston market with its HomeRuns delivery business, which shortly after went bust, the Boston Globe reported. Tough competition and expensive real estate have made the Boston area, where the eight top food retailers have a lock on 85 percent of the business, a challenge for outside grocers like Hannaford. However, the region's lack of Wal-Mart supercenters has spurred the grocer not only to try to get in first, but also to develop points of differentiation such as private label gourmet foods and the aforementioned dining experts.

As well as its large Easton and Taunton stores, Hannaford also plans to open 35,000-square-foot stores in Massachusetts communities where real estate is at a premium, according to the Globe. The retailer has also undertaken a remodeling program this year for several of its existing stores in the state, including Middleboro, Marlborough, and Townsend locations, in addition to opening a second store later this year in Lowell, Mass. (its 26th in Massachusetts) and keeping on the lookout for further expansion opportunities.

In advance of the store openings in Easton and Taunton, the company will present local organizations in the towns with more than $35,000 in donations on Friday.

In other Hannaford news a little closer to home, the company said yesterday that it had met with local officials to discuss a proposal to build a shopping center, including a 36,000-square-foot store, on a 13-acre site in Buxton, Maine.

The projected store, which would employ about 100 full- and part-time workers, would feature a pharmacy; a natural and organic food department, Nature's Place; a full service butcher shop; produce and seafood departments; a bakery; and a deli.

"We've been looking at Buxton for many years," noted Hannaford spokeswoman Caren Epstein in a statement, adding that the company has owned property in the town since 1984. "With Buxton residents patronizing our stores in Waterboro and Gorham, the time is right for Buxton to have its own Hannaford store."

The site may also include a bank and several small neighborhood shops, but no prospective tenants have been revealed yet.

Epstein said that Hannaford was eager to start working on the site "as soon as possible," noting that the project's timeframe depended on the receipt of necessary permits and approvals from local and state boards and agencies.

Delhaize-owned Hannaford Bros. Co. operates 147 supermarkets and food-and-drug combination stores, 49 of them in Maine and the rest in New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts. These stores operate under the Hannaford Supermarket and Hannaford Supermarket and Pharmacy names. Hannaford employs over 24,000 associates.