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Lunds Readies Two-store Strategy for Downtown Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS - Lund Food Holdings, Inc. (LFHI) is planning to open two Lunds stores in downtown Minneapolis in 2006, a move that will mark the first full-service supermarkets in the heart of the city's downtown.

The privately held Edina, Minn.-based operator of the Lunds and Byerly's chains intends to build two smaller versions of its efficient and attractive supermarkets on either side of the Mississippi River to serve a growing downtown population.

Company spokeswoman Michelle Croteau told Progressive Grocer that the new stores, pending the approval of city of Minneapolis officials, are part of a continuing strategic growth initiative aimed at strengthening its market share in the Twin Cities. "There has been a need for a full-service grocery store in the downtown community for some time, especially with the recent revitalization and renovation efforts."

In addition to the new downtown Minneapolis stores, Croteau said: "We are also making reinvestments in our current stores," pointing to a recently completed remodel in Lunds' Edina store, as well as a major remodeling project set to get under way in Byerly's St. Louis Park, Minn. store in January.

The first urban Minneapolis Lunds location is anticipated to be the current Rick's Market site at 313 Central Ave. Southeast. The conversion plans call for a larger redevelopment effort, with Exeter Realty Co., that will include a mix of residential and retail use. LFHI plans to occupy approximately 15,000 to 18,000 square feet of the retail space for a new Lunds store. The plans for the mixed-use redevelopment project currently have been submitted to the city of Minneapolis for approval. Construction is expected to begin next spring, with an anticipated opening in spring 2006.

The second Lunds downtown Minneapolis store location is set for the former World Wide Pictures building, which was part of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association headquarters, located at 1201 Hennepin Ave. (12th and Hennepin) in the Central Business District. LFHI has a signed purchase agreement with the ministry and will be developing plans to submit to city officials for approval to begin construction, which when obtained, is expected to begin in the fall of 2005, with a summer 2006 opening.

The retailer is looking to expand the first floor of the three-story building for approximately 12,000 square feet of retail grocery space, while the other two floors will potentially be converted into office space or condominiums.

Local industry analysts applauded the move, calling it an astute reaction to the downtown's changing demographics. Formatted as urban-style models, both stores will be smaller in square footage but will have all or most of the attributes of other Lunds locations, including a strong focus on perishables, meal solutions, and grab-and-go options. LFHI representatives traveled nationally and internationally to cities such as New York and London to develop ideas for the format.

"We are thrilled to bring two Lunds stores to downtown Minneapolis," said Tres Lund, president and c.e.o. of Lunds and Byerly's. "We look forward to the opportunity to provide downtown residents and businesses on both sides of the Mississippi River with great full-service grocery stores that provide quality service and selection."

Lund Food Holdings, Inc. operates eight Lunds, 12 Byerly's and three Rick's Markets in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas.

-- Meg Major
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