PHILADELPHIA -- Twin County Grocers, the retailer-owned cooperative, which supplies the Foodtown and D'Agostino chains in New York and New Jersey, will service its first two stores here by the end of the month -- and eight more by the end of 1998.
James McGuire, group vice president, said the two stores -- which had been operating under the Shop n' Bag banner and were serviced by Fleming Cos. -- closed May 30 for renovation and remerchandising.
They will reopen at the end of this month as Super Foodtown stores, and be fully stocked and operational by the important Fourth of July weekend, McGuire said.
McGuire said Twin County, Edison, N.J., decided to enter the Philadelphia market after "ongoing discussions with a number of wholesaler-supplied retailers in Pennsylvania."
He predicted the next eight stores to be serviced by Twin County and converted to Foodtown stores would be either Shop n' Bag stores or "dissatisfied independent retailers presently served by Fleming, Richfood or Supervalu."
Although the Philadelphia market is already crowded with conventional operators such as Acme, Super Foods and Super G, upscale operator Genuardi's and the natural-food retailer Fresh Fields, McGuire said Twin County was confident of consumer acceptance.
He said the Foodtown banner and Foodtown private label already have strong consumer awareness, even in Philadelphia. The company's research found that consumers strongly acknowledged Foodtown's clean stores, specials and retail pricing. The company plans to advertise its two new stores in the Philadelphia Inquirer and through aggressive circular distribution, McGuire said.
The stores -- located at 52nd Street and Market and 58th Street and Baltimore -- measure 28,000 square feet and are expected to generate $15 million each in annual retail sales, McGuire said.
The location of the stores works well logistically with Twin County's current distribution facilities in Edison, N.J., and West Nyack, N.Y., McGuire said.
"Several manufacturers which truck to us now have manufacturing facilities and/or depots in Pennsylvania," he said. "These two store locations [in Philadelphia], as well as our other planned expansions in that area, have extremely positive backhaul opportunities," McGuire said.