GIANT PROTOTYPE BIGGER, FRESHER

DUNKIRK, Md. - Pleased with the performance of its four-month-old Millville, Del., prototype store, Giant Food duplicated the model and added a full-service Starbucks here. The new store features expanded perishable departments and a greater assortment of prepared foods than conventional Giant stores."Both stores' sales have exceeded our expectations," said spokesman Barry Scher, Giant Food, Landover,

DUNKIRK, Md. - Pleased with the performance of its four-month-old Millville, Del., prototype store, Giant Food duplicated the model and added a full-service Starbucks here. The new store features expanded perishable departments and a greater assortment of prepared foods than conventional Giant stores.

"Both stores' sales have exceeded our expectations," said spokesman Barry Scher, Giant Food, Landover, Md.

The locations are two of eight new or replacement prototype stores slated for 2006. A Starbucks will be built where size permits.

The Ahold USA-operated chain that was merged with Stop & Shop two years ago will close seven "smaller, outdated stores" by year's end, Giant said.

"We have taken the very best concepts from Stop & Shop with the objective of developing one-stop-shopping themes such as featuring Boston Market food, a Starbucks and other destination departments," Scher said. "Our meat, deli and produce sections cater to the homemaker that needs more time with an expanded assortment of prepared foods."

Boston Market entrees and side dishes, prepared off-site, are a new addition to the stores' deli departments, while their seafood departments merchandise traditional offerings alongside a fresh sushi bar and dedicated chef, as do conventional Giant stores, Scher said. The locations' ethnic food sections feature ready-to-eat Thai entrees.

Giant hopes to eliminate some of the guesswork of fish and seafood preparation at the prototype stores' full-service seafood counters by filleting and steaming customers' fish and seafood selections free of charge.

The new stores also feature more expansive produce sections designed to evoke farm-stand ambience with colorful canopies and overflowing baskets of conventional, organic and specialty fruits and vegetables, according to the retailer.

"We'll definitely emphasize locally grown produce in the prototype stores," Scher said. "We pioneered the locally grown produce theme about 15 years ago by working with the Virginia, Maryland and Delaware departments of agriculture."

Marinated beef kabobs, stuffed pork chops and stuffed flank steaks are among the ready-to-cook value-added meats displayed beside fully prepared meats in the stores' meat departments.

Rotisserie chicken is merchandised in the stores' service delis as are hot mozzarella sticks, chicken wings and stuffed jalapeno peppers.

Higher-end Boar's Head deli meats have replaced Dietz & Watson deli meats in the stores.

Freshly baked artisan breads, rolls and cakes are merchandised in the stores' bakeries. Gourmet cookie cases with decorated message and character cookies are a new feature of the section.

Giant's new line of private-label Nature's Promise bread, free of artificial or synthetic colors, flavors, hydrogenated oils, bleached or bromated flours, is also offered in the bakeries. Other Nature's Promise foods are found in the stores' natural food sections.

The Dunkirk and Millville Giants' cheese shops feature more extensive varieties of cheese. Their selections are comprised of hundreds of domestic and imported products, Scher said.

The prototypes' store-within-a-store design is carried through to their "best seller" book, movie, magazine and video sections. Dunkirk shoppers can browse the section after visiting that store's full-service Starbucks that features coffee and pastries.

The new Dunkirk Giant's layout is nearly 70,000 square feet, while the average traditional Giant store is about 55,000 square feet.