Food Lion launches new store format in Wilmington
SALISBURY — Food Lion’s new store format has arrived in North Carolina but not yet in Rowan County.
The Salisbury-based grocer on Wednesday began unveiling 31 remodeled stores in the Wilmington area. The stores have adopted the “easy, fresh and affordable” strategy launched in 2013 at a prototype Food Lion in Concord, where sales have jumped 20 percent since the change.
Food Lion has not released information about when Salisbury and Rowan County stores will get the makeover that company leaders say makes shopping easier and more convenient while saving customers money. The supermarket chain will continue to roll out the new format in additional markets over time, a spokeswoman said, and plans to launch 45 remodeled stores in the Greenville area in November.
“Since announcing our new strategy, we’ve been doing a lot across the Food Lion chain to create positive change,” Beth Newlands Campbell, president of Food Lion, said in a news release.
Food Lion is working to overcome recent struggles and battling for market share. The company in 2012 closed 126 underperforming stores and shut down its Bloom brand. Last year, parent company Delhaize sold 155 stores under the Harveys, Sweetbay and Reid’s brands to rival Bi-Lo.
But good momentum at Food Lion helped Delhaize post positive results in the United States at the end of the second quarter, which marked the seventh consecutive quarter of improved sales at Food Lion.
The momentum continues with the launch of the first group of remodeled stores “that bring all the elements of the new strategy to life to make shopping easier for customers,” Newlands Campbell said.
Food Lion listened to customers who said they want a grocery experience where it’s easy to shop, save and figure out what’s for dinner, Newlands Campbell said, calling the new stores “enhanced” and “reimagined.”
As part of a new initiative to eliminate hunger in local communities, Food Lion Feeds has donated 150,000 meals worth $31,000 to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina and 27 local feeding agencies in the Wilmington region to mark the launch of the 31 stores.
The donation is part of the grocer’s commitment to provide 500 million meals to people and families in need by the end of 2020.
“We want our customers and communities to know they can count on Food Lion to be their partner in eliminating the choices families are forced to make when they’re hungry, like choosing between dinner and rent or gasoline and buying groceries,” Newlands Campbell said.
The remodeled stores offer new features designed to make shopping easier. Food Lion has added thousands of new items, including a dedicated gluten-free section and a selection of fresh meat and produce that carry a double-your-money-back guarantee, as well as new packaging for beef that is leak-proof and freezer-ready.
Customers will see new yellow signs indicating special bargains. Items marked “extended savings” will carry a lower price for a longer period, up to 13 weeks.
Food Lion also added Daily Dinner Deals, which are hot meals that feed four people for about $10 offered from 4 to 7 p.m., as well as all-day daily meal deals in the deli department. The grocer now has a wider variety of grab-and-go items and pre-sliced deli meats and cheeses, which are sliced fresh daily and available for customers to pick up without waiting in line.
To help customers get in and out quickly, Food Lion has worked to make checkout faster with improved technology, larger display screens so customers can see items and prices as they’re scanned and additional associates available to bag groceries for customers. New blue bags for cold and frozen items make unpacking at home easier.
Food Lion has a new weekly flyer designed to help customers with an easy-to-navigate layout and easy-to-spot low prices. An MVP Savings Center section on the back page also helps customers save more by combining weekly specials with coupons from the in-store kiosks.
All stores are also receiving expanded assortments based on customer feedback and consumer research and include wider varieties of the items customers request most, such as k-cup coffees and Greek yogurt multipacks.
Food Lion’s roughly 63,000 associates have completed new “customer-centric training” to provide a better shopping experience, according to the company.
“For our customers to trust us, they need to be able to go into any Food Lion store and have a consistently great experience,” Newlands Campbell said. “This is why our efforts to improve customer service and ensure our products are always fresh are so important.”
Food Lion serves more than 9 million customers each week at more than 1,100 locations in 10 states. The business was founded in Salisbury in 1957 as Food Town.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.