BIG V PLANS TO DOUBLE SIZE IN FOUR YEARS

NEW YORK -- Big V Supermarkets, Florida, N.Y., intends to pump $130 million into bigger stores in new markets in an aggressive plan to double the size of the company in four years, Mark Schwartz, Big V president and chief executive officer, said in a presentation here.Big V will open four stores in Pennsylvania and one on Long Island in 2000. The company plans to add six new stores in 2001, eight

NEW YORK -- Big V Supermarkets, Florida, N.Y., intends to pump $130 million into bigger stores in new markets in an aggressive plan to double the size of the company in four years, Mark Schwartz, Big V president and chief executive officer, said in a presentation here.

Big V will open four stores in Pennsylvania and one on Long Island in 2000. The company plans to add six new stores in 2001, eight in 2002 and nine in 2003. Most of the new projects will be 79,000-square-foot superstores featuring greenhouses and lawn and garden sections, along with in-store pharmacies and photo centers. Most will branch into markets contiguous to Big V's base in New York's Hudson Valley, where it currently operates 30 of its 37 stores.

Schwartz's comments were made at the Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Annual Food & Drug Retailing Conference.

After a long career with Wal-Mart, Schwartz joined Big V as CEO last April just as his former employer was arriving in Big V's traditional market. Wal-Mart supercenters have opened in Kingston and Monticello, N.Y., with at least two other planned this year, Schwartz said.

"My background is a positive," said Schwartz. "You can compete with Wal-Mart; you just have to focus on what they're not."

As Wal-Mart moves into Big V country, Big V is trying to grow its market region. The company has expanded into eastern Pennsylvania by acquiring four former Hechinger stores. It also picked up five ShopRite stores in the Trenton area last fall when it purchased the assets of ShopRite of Pennington, Trenton, N.J., another member of the Wakefern Food Corp., Elizabeth, N.J., a wholesale cooperative. Schwartz said Big V is "ahead of plan," for synergy savings.

"To say this whet our appetite for acquisitions is an understatement," added James A., Troopes Jr., chief financial officer for Big V.