Friday, October 26, 2007

Ahold, the Dutch parent company of Giant Food, yesterday announced plans to remodel or replace 100 of its supermarkets in the District, Maryland, Virginia and Delaware.

The company said the program will be its largest investment in Giant since buying the chain, which now includes 185 stores, nine years ago.

The grocery industry has become increasingly competitive nationwide. Traditional grocery stores have suffered as Wal-Mart competes with them on price while upscale grocery chains compete on amenities.

In the Washington area, Giant’s market share has fallen in recent years, according to trade magazine Food World, as Safeway and smaller grocery chains such as Harris Teeter, Whole Foods and Wegmans push into the region.

“The main decision to upgrade these stores is to improve the customer shopping experience and to do that in a way that complements the new pricing structure,” said spokesman Jamie Miller.

Giant’s three-year remodeling plan — dubbed “Project Refresh” — will include upgrades to the produce, deli and other departments that sell perishable goods, Mr. Miller said. The remodeled stores will have new decor, including lighting and flooring.

The remodeling project will center on Giant’s new “value improvement program,” which focuses on cutting prices on everything in the store, one department at a time. Giant is about half way through the process.

The renovations are expected to start early next year. The company declined to say how much it is spending or which stores will be remodeled, citing competitive reasons.

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