CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Food Lion's new concept store here includes a 1,400-square-foot branded convenience section, a heavy emphasis on prepared foods and several other features designed for shoppers on the run.
The first Bloom, A Food Lion Market opened last week after two years of development by a cross-disciplinary team involving executives from both Food Lion, Salisbury, N.C., and its parent company, Delhaize Group, Brussels, Belgium. The European influence is evident in several areas of the store, including its extensive use of technologies like handheld scanners designed to speed the checkout process.
Bearing a subdued design scheme created to heighten the convenience of the shopping experience, the 38,000-square-foot store has a completely different look from typical Food Lion supermarkets. It is the first of five test locations planned this year as part of a 70-store, marketwide remodeling effort. Although the first store was built new from the ground up, the remaining four will be conversions of existing Food Lion locations.
During a tour of the first location prior to its opening last week, Robert Canipe, vice president of business strategy, Food Lion, said the company anticipates rolling the concept out based on individual market opportunities.
"This will be another arrow in our quiver," he told SN. "It will give us another option to meet the needs of consumers."
Bloom was designed to do four things, said Robin Johnson, concept creator, marketing: minimize the irritations and hassles of shopping; eliminate unnecessary time spent in the store; help satisfy shoppers' immediate needs for that night's dinner; and help with other routine errands.
At the entrance, near the center of the store, Bloom features a store-within-a-store called Table Top Circle, which offers the types of items consumers typically need during fill-in trips or for same-day dinner shopping. It includes bread, milk, beer, soda, eggs and a variety of prepared take-and-heat meal solutions, including an eight-foot reach-in cooler containing Boston Market-branded meal items.
To the right of the Table Top Circle is the Boston Market kitchen offering hot meals to go, the second such outlet inside a Food Lion store. It is positioned between the bakery and the deli, in the area where shoppers might typically expect to find the produce department. The Boston Market menu will include traditional items like rotisserie chicken, meat loaf, side dishes and corn bread, but will also include fried chicken, chicken tenders and about a half-dozen other items developed specifically for Food Lion, said Darrell Sapp, concept creator, category merchandising and pricing.
Produce is located directly behind the Table Top Circle, because, the company said, customers making fill-in trips are often seeking fresh fruits and vegetables. Groceries are arranged into shopping "universes," with all of the breakfast products grouped together, for example. In addition, products such as beverages are grouped by flavor or type of product rather than by brand.
On the nonfood side, the store includes a pharmacy, a Kodak digital print kiosk and a DVD vending machine.
The store features eight information kiosks, a digital scale in the produce department that prints price stickers, a wine information kiosk and handheld scanners that allow customers to tally their own baskets as they shop. The checkout lanes were borrowed directly from Europe, the company said.
Despite the sleek, slightly more upscale feel of the store, Johnson said prices will be in line with Food Lion's traditional offerings.