FOOD LION TO ROLL OUT 40 BLOOM STORES IN WASHINGTON

SALISBURY, N.C. - Food Lion here said last week it would convert 40 Food Lion stores in the Washington, D.C., area to the Bloom concept, marking the largest rollout yet for the higher-end, service-oriented concept.Food Lion has been testing Bloom in five locations in Charlotte, N.C., for the past two years, and it recently said it would open seven Bloom stores as part of its expansion into the Greenville,

SALISBURY, N.C. - Food Lion here said last week it would convert 40 Food Lion stores in the Washington, D.C., area to the Bloom concept, marking the largest rollout yet for the higher-end, service-oriented concept.

Food Lion has been testing Bloom in five locations in Charlotte, N.C., for the past two years, and it recently said it would open seven Bloom stores as part of its expansion into the Greenville, S.C., market. The chain, owned by Brussels-based Delhaize Group, also previously said it planned to convert some of its 80 stores in the Washington region to Bloom, but it had not specified how many.

"We want to very specifically target a different kind of customer, and Bloom is a different kind of store," said Bloom spokeswoman Karen Peterson. "It seemed to fit."

In addition to the 40 Bloom conversions, Food Lion is planning to transform 15 Washington-area Food Lions to Bottom Dollar, the chain's new price-impact banner. The remaining Food Lions will be remodeled as part of the chain's ongoing market-by-market "renewal" strategy.

Food Lion said it expects to begin the conversion process this spring and complete it by the fall.

Locations where Food Lion will be converted to Bloom include the Virginia towns of Fredericksburg, Manassas, Dale City, Herndon, Fairfax and Leesburg and the Maryland town of Gaithersburg.

Last year Food Lion revamped the product offering at Bloom, adding more prepared foods and gourmet products and introducing the Bloom and Inspirations private labels.

Giant Food of Landover, Md., is the market-share leader in the region, but has come under increasing pressure as its Amsterdam-based parent company, Ahold, has struggled financially and from the expansion of more upscale concepts like Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Wegmans and the new lifestyle makeovers from Safeway, which holds the No. 2 share.

Food Lion has about 10% of the market, fourth behind No. 3 Shoppers Food Warehouse, a division of Minneapolis-based Supervalu, according to local real estate sources.