Supervalu Pulls Plug on Sunflower Market

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Supervalu Pulls Plug on Sunflower Market

MINNEAPOLIS -- Nearly two years after opening its first Sunflower Market unit in Indianapolis, Supervalu will shutter all five of the organic format stores next month, due to poor performance in a market niche bursting with competition.

Despite the booming health and wellness movement, the stores did not meet Supervalu's goals, Supervalu representative Haley Meyer was quoted as saying in the Columbus Dispatch. Meyer added the company will apply the knowledge gained from the failed experience elsewhere within the organization.

The five Sunflower Markets – three of which are in the Columbus, Ohio market while the others are in Indianapolis and Chicago -- represented Supervalu’s attempt to participate in the flourishing of formats and operators looking to cater to growing demand for organic foods.

The five stores, which will close the week of Feb. 18, employed 140 people. "Sunflower Market was an innovative approach to the national organics market and we'll take the learnings from the format and apply them elsewhere within our organization," Meyer was quoted as saying.

The company had originally said it planned to open as many as 50 of the low-cost organic stores by 2011. The underpinnings of Sunflower Market’s strategy were to offer natural foods at lower prices via sleek smaller stores with limited selection. Observers said the format might have missed the mark because it tried to be too many things at once.