HONOLULU -- The new owner of Times Super Markets here said last week the company intends to launch a multimedia advertising campaign in late summer to let consumers know about the changes that are being made at the 13-store chain.
John Quinn, Times' new chairman and chief executive officer, told SN the campaign will commence "when we feel the stores are at a place that enable us to advertise freshness, cleanliness and pricing."
Quinn said the Times stores are being freshened and cleaned up "to get them back to where they were in the 1970s and 1980s, when they were known for their perishables departments. We want to get to that point so we can become the dominant player in the marketplace."
He hopes to improve Times' pricing "by finding ways to develop buying synergies with our mainland operations, because our California stores do big volumes and we're looking at combining our buying power to get a lower cost of goods."
There are no plans for store renovations until next year -- after the stores are equipped with new point-of-sale information systems, he said.
The process of freshening and cleaning up began early last month, along with remerchandising efforts to adjust store varieties to local demographics, Quinn said. "Right now our stores have pretty much the same mix, whether they are in upscale or lower-income neighborhoods, so merchandising will be the key this year to getting the right product to the right customers."
Quinn is also president and CEO of PAQ, a Modesto, Calif.-based corporation that operates six Food 4 Less stores in Northern and Central California, with two more set to open later this year.
He is one of six Food 4 Less franchise operators in Northern and Central California, where Fleming Cos., the Dallas-based wholesaler, also operates corporate Food 4 Less stores.
Quinn used to work for Fleming in Hawaii during the 1980s, "and I've stayed in touch with the Hawaii marketplace and began looking for acquisition opportunities about two years ago," he told SN.
Asked why he didn't explore opportunities closer to home, he replied, "Most of the independents in California are too large for us to acquire. But when Times became available, we worked out a deal with the Teruya family, which has owned the company for 53 years."
PAQ completed the acquisition in mid April. All 13 Times stores are on the island of Oahu.
According to Quinn, his six Food 4 Less stores on the mainland average 55,000 square feet and do a volume exceeding $200 million, while the 13 Times stores run 24,000 to 46,000 square feet, with an average size of 32,000 square feet, and do an annual volume of about $150 million.
Sales have picked up from where they were a year ago, he said, though he isn't sure what factors contributed to the increase. "But customers have accepted our takeover, and they are coming in looking for future improvements. Our goal is to get the stores running correctly and then to expand from there," he noted.
Quinn said he and his PAQ partner, Glenn Evans, plan to be here every 45 to 60 days. But day-to-day operations are being overseen by Roger Godfrey, a former Fleming executive who retired two years ago and came out of retirement to work for Quinn. "Roger knows this market, and I wouldn't have done the acquisition if he wasn't living here," Quinn told SN.
Other new executives will include Rich Linton, vice president, store operations, who relocated here after operating one of the Fleming-owned Food 4 Less stores in Chico, Calif., and Ed Vargas, director of merchandising, who worked for PW Markets, San Jose, Calif., for many years and spent the last year with an independent operator in Oakdale, Calif.