iFresh to Shutter Some Stores, Revamp Others
Asian-American grocery store chain and online grocer iFresh Inc. has revealed that it will close or sell underperforming stores and renovate its remaining locations as part of a strategic initiative to enhance its shopping experience.
According to the grocer, the plan follows “constructive dialogue and an improvement plan discussed with the board of directors” at a board meeting held in late September. The company hasn't yet revealed how many stores will close, or when the closures will occur.
Regarding the remaining stores, iFresh will remodel and update them to feature more dietary options, improved on-site fresh food preparation, better payments systems and greater delivery options to serve a 4.5-mile range surrounding each upgraded store. The revamped stores will be dubbed “Life Experience Halls” to draw attention to their improved in-store shopping environment, integrated online platform and superior customer service.
In keeping with this transition, Rainbow Tang Inc., a New York-based food management company owned by Taiyuan, China-based Taiyuan Mingyang Happy Catering Co. Ltd, will make and sell ready-to-eat food in the iFresh supermarket slated to open on Glen Cove Road in Carle Place, N.Y., in the fourth quarter of 2018. Rainbow Tang will prepare traditional Chinese dishes, noodles, pastries, fried foods and baked goods, and customers will be able to purchase fresh fish, meat and produce at the Glen Cove location and have Rainbow Tang prepare a meal from the fresh ingredients right in the store.
“We believe our transformation plan will attract a new audience to iFresh stores, as we attract more young people and Chinese food enthusiasts from all backgrounds to our ‘Life Experience Halls,’ and offer improved services to our loyal customers,” said iFresh Chairman and CEO Long Deng. “These store upgrades, combined with our plans to improve our delivery options and expand our delivery range, will integrate the online and offline shopping experience, provide new culinary options and [allow] customers the opportunity to select iFresh products to be prepared on-site. Furthermore, as we wind down underperforming stores, we expect our overall financial profile to improve.”
Added Deng: “As an opening act in our ‘transformation,' our agreement with Rainbow Tang to provide ready-to-eat food and prepare iFresh food on premises will allow our customers to experience a new service uncommon in America. We believe that the opportunity for shoppers to pick the freshest food available to be prepared on-site by professionals at the soon-to-be-opened iFresh Glen Cove will be attractive to our traditional clientele, who place a high premium on freshness, and to new shoppers interested in an improved shopping experience.”
“We hope our services in the iFresh Glen Cove location will break new ground with inventive culinary options and access to fresh food from the iFresh supermarket, as well as introduce a new customer base to our culinary experience as we draw on our extensive and successful history of providing superior catering services,” said Minghua Chen, chairman of Rainbow Tang and Mingyang. “For example, we believe iFresh customers will be able to purchase a steak prepared by Rainbow Tang and selected by customers from iFresh butchers. These steaks typically sell for more than $30 when prepared in a restaurant, but we believe we can provide the same quality for $10-15, prices typical for a fast-food restaurant, following our integration with the iFresh supermarket.”
Long Island City, N.Y.-based iFresh currently operates nine retail supermarkets along the U.S. eastern seaboard and two in-house wholesale businesses.