IN DETROIT, FARMER JACK DIGS IN

DETROIT -- Outside the metro New York region, Michigan is another crucial market for A&P -- particularly metro Detroit, where the company is the only supermarket chain and operates 12 Farmer Jack stores.The combination of a stable, dense population and the lack of supermarkets within the central part of the city are the elements that have made this such an attractive market for the company."This area

DETROIT -- Outside the metro New York region, Michigan is another crucial market for A&P -- particularly metro Detroit, where the company is the only supermarket chain and operates 12 Farmer Jack stores.

The combination of a stable, dense population and the lack of supermarkets within the central part of the city are the elements that have made this such an attractive market for the company.

"This area is grossly underserved by supermarkets," said Paul Coleman, Farmer Jack vice president of advertising and marketing for metro Detroit. Before A&P's expansion here, "there was nothing to offer anybody. Shoppers had to leave the community [for the suburbs]. Now [that Farmer Jack has established itself here], there's no reason to leave."

Coleman spoke with SN during a walk-through of the newest addition to the Farmer Jack banner -- a 60,000-square-foot store, the largest in the chain, which opened here earlier this month.

The new store here is similar in many respects to the new Mahwah, N.J., prototype that opened in May (see related story on Page 1), such as the basic layout of perishables in the perimeter, frozen foods in the middle and a focus on upgraded service. But it also differs in significant ways from the New Jersey format. The produce section here is smaller than at the Mahwah store, and this store contains an expanded service meat department, compared with a standard self-service department in Mahwah.

"Our produce business in Michigan is different than [in the New York metro region]," said Christian Haub, president and chief operating officer of A&P. "People [here] don't consume as much produce, or as much variety.

"The meat department is more important in Detroit and makes a much bigger statement [than in Mahwah]. But our prototype going forward will not have service meat as a standard element."

A&P plans to locate within Detroit as many as five of the 15 stores it has scheduled to open in Michigan within the next two to three years.