Supervalu Fresh Format Vies with Whole Foods, Says Shaw's Prez

WEST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The Supervalu 'Premium Fresh & Healthy' program, which is being rolled out across all new and renovated stores under the Shaw's banner, has reportedly been compared by Shaw's president Carl Jablonski to natural/organic food giant Whole Foods - one of Shaw's bitter competitors in its New England market area.

"It sounds like a Whole Foods, looks like a Whole Foods, but it's a Shaw's," Jablonksi told the Boston Herald last week.

In common with Whole Foods, the store showcases natural and organic products. Beyond that, it also features international foods; larger produce, meat, seafood, bakery, and deli sections; enlarged pharmacy and beauty care departments; and maybe even in-store health clinics at some locations. Jablonski noted that the retailer was currently in talks regarding that possibility, but declined to give more details.

Item selections will be chosen to reflect the tastes of each store's surrounding community, with bakery departments offering more specialty items from third-party vendors.

Renovated stores will additionally boast updated decor that better complements the products.

Jablonski characterized the adoption of the program as "key to our competitive strategy." The chain's natural and organic food sales grew by double digits over last year, leaving mainstream grocery increases in the dust, and Jablonski said he believes the trend has legs.

In addition to all new and remodeled stores, including a recently revamped and expanded Brockton, Mass. store that reopens next month and 14 scheduled major overhauls, the Premium Fresh & Healthy format will be implemented to varying degrees in other Shaw's locations.

Supervalu spokeswoman Haley Meyer told Progressive Grocer: "On our earnings call last week, we announced our fiscal 2008 $1.2 billion capital spending program, which includes 100 to 110 major remodels and approximately 25 to 30 new standard-sized stores (we have not yet specific under which banner). We will continue to apply the Premium Fresh & Healthy program to these new store and remodeling projects."

When asked how the program is implemented in stores, Meyer replied: "The Premium Fresh & Healthy program is applied in 'modules," according to what makes the most sense for a particular store or neighborhood, and is based on extensive research. Some stores may see a smaller Premium Fresh & Healthy module implementation than others."

Added Meyer, "The Premium Fresh & Healthy program is on track to enhance the total store experience for customers; it offers products that are healthy, easy to find, and easy to prepare, combined with outstanding customer service."

Minneapolis-based Supervalu, Shaw's parent company, launched the program last November as part of its $1 billion remodeling and new store campaign. According to Supervalu, as new stores open, they will incorporate the Premium Fresh & Healthy format, and most major remodels and new stores in the next year will adopt the Premium Fresh & Healthy program.
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