BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Bruno's Supermarkets last week said it hopes to reestablish the strong image its stores once had by hiring a California-based marketing firm to redesign the look of its stores and refresh the chain's identity.
Bruno's said it expects to unveil the new brand and store prototype designs early next year and to begin rolling them out with three or four remodels a year, plus two to three new stores over the next few years.
The company it hired is Palladeo, Glendale, Calif., which has done work for Safeway, Albertsons, Bristol Farms, Wegmans, United Supermarkets and other chains around the U.S. Palladeo's predecessor company — Brown, Bunyan, Moon & More — also worked for Bruno's between 1996 and 2003, under two different Bruno's owners, doing a makeover of the Bruno's brand and redesigning some of the chain's stores.
However, none of the stores have been remodeled for the last seven or eight years, Jenny Brooks, public relations account manager for Bruno's, told SN, and “store conditions vary.”
“In addition, because of acquisitions over the years, the look of the stores vary as well, and there's not really a common, matching look. So part of what we're trying to do with Palladeo's help is rein that in and develop a similar look for the brand.”
Despite a variety of owners over the years and a variety of changes in store operations, “the key attribute for Bruno's and Food World has been the emotional attachment people here have for them. Consumers are rooting for the brand, and they hope the current owners can restore it to what it was.”
Bruno's operates 66 stores: 21 conventional Bruno's in Alabama; 43 value-oriented Food World units, encompassing 36 in Alabama and seven in the Florida Panhandle; and two value-oriented FoodMax stores in the Florida Panhandle.
Bruno's, which was founded in 1933, has had an unstable ownership history since it was sold by the Bruno family in 1995 to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, a New York-based leveraged buyout firm.
Following a successful financial reorganization after a Chapter 11 filing, Bruno's was sold by KKR at the end of 2001 to Ahold USA, which combined Bruno's with its Bi-Lo chain into a single entity. In 2005 Ahold sold the combined operation to Lone Star Funds, a private-equity company based in Dallas.
Lone Star sold some stores to New Hampshire-based C&S Wholesale Grocers, which operated them as part of its Southern Family Markets, and in March 2007 Lone Star separated Bruno's and Bi-Lo into separate entities as part of an unsuccessful effort to sell Bi-Lo.
Bruno's hired Kent Moore, chief executive officer of United Supermarkets, Lubbock, Texas, as chief financial officer in June 2007 and elevated him to president and CEO last October.
Since then the company has had two major areas of focus, Brooks said: Establishing its own infrastructure after the separation from Bi-Lo, which had provided buying, merchandising, pricing and technical support for Bruno's, and establishing a home office staff.
The company's next focus, according to the chain's website, is “returning this hometown favorite to its roots as an Alabama-based company and providing the same hospitality that is the hallmark of the South — a return to the services, qualities and community commitment that once made Bruno's the most desirable shopping destination, as well as new and inspired ideas to enhance [shoppers'] busy lifestyles.”
Bruno's contract with Palladeo is multifaceted. It will serve as Bruno's marketing agency, including public relations. Palladeo Envision, the company's design division, will help create prototypes for the Bruno's and Food World stores and attempt to refresh both brands, while Palladeo Create, the company's decor and fixture fabrication division, will develop a rollout strategy for implementing the new designs.