Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 3, 2013

CONCORD — Food Lion will unveil the grocery chain’s newest format Wednesday morning when a remodeled store in Concord opens at 7 a.m. featuring all of the company’s newest innovations in one location.
The first 200 shoppers will receive scratch-off cards worth $10, $15 or $20 in free groceries. Dignitaries and store officials will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8 a.m.
Based in Salisbury, Food Lion’s 1,113 stores across the Southeast have been going through a rebranding campaign that now features the marketing strategy “easy, fresh and affordable.” The Concord store, located at 860 Union St. S., brings together a variety of changes — some previously tested and others brand-new — designed to make grocery shopping more convenient for customers.
Depending on customer feedback in Concord, other Food Lion stores could see some of the new elements in the next year or two.
At the Concord store, which was closed for eight weeks during the renovation, customers will find thousands of new product varieties aimed at making shopping easier and saving both time and money, store manager Antoine Grant said. 
New additions include a section of “grab and go” foods, daily dinner deals offered in the deli from 4 to 7 p.m., an expanded gluten-free section, a $1 Deals section and new Food Lion-brand beef in sealed-fresh vacuum packaging. 
The Concord Food Lion also has transformed its produce section into a walk-in “garden cooler,” which keeps fruits and vegetables fresher, longer, Grant said.
“I want to personally welcome our customers back to the redesigned Union Street Food Lion and invite them to come in and see the difference the renovation has made,” Grant said. “With the new format, our customers have a better selection of products, which helps provide a one-stop shop for all their grocery needs.”
Grant said his 68 employees have had additional customer-service training. New name badges feature the slogan “count on me.”
“I want customers to know that they can count on me and the entire Food Lion team to provide an easy, fresh and affordable shopping experience every day,” Grant said.
Customers will notice changes as soon as they walk into the Concord store. New registers feature large, easy-to-view screens that face the customers.
The register stations have a pass-through area that allows the checker to walk to the customer and use a hand-held scanner to scan large, heavy items like dog food in the grocery cart.
Employees will use a color-coded bagging system with white bags for regular groceries and blue bags for cold and frozen items to make unpacking faster at home. The color-coded bags were tested in Salisbury stores.
The Union Street Food Lion has also grouped all of its convenience services together in the front of the store, such as Coinstar and lottery tickets. Foods that are eaten together, like soup and crackers, are displayed together, and related items, such as beer and wine or beef and seafood, are now located in the same areas.
All of the new store elements are based on customer feedback, spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown said.
The company made the changes while ensuring that customers experience the same low prices that they expect from Food Lion, she said.
As part of the grand re-opening festivities, the Concord Food Lion will offer daily giveaways through Sunday.  All week, customers also can enter for a chance to win a Food Lion gift card worth up to $500 or the chance to participate in a 90-second shopping spree on Saturday.
In celebration of the grand reopening and the holiday season of giving, Food Lion on Tuesday stocked the pantry at Operation Bread Basket, a hunger-relief agency in Concord. Operation Bread Basket received enough food to provide nearly 1,200 meals. 
So far this year, the company has donated nearly 30 million meals to local food banks through its hunger-relief efforts, including $500,000 in gift cards to North Carolina food banks in October. 
Read more in Wednesday’s Post about the remodeled Concord store and Food Lion’s new strategy.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.