GIANT, TOPS CHANGE CARD SUPPLIER

CARLISLE, Pa. -- Giant Food Stores here will complete the conversion of its greeting card section to a new Hallmark-branded store-within-a-store format in all 268 retail locations by the end of this week, company officials said."It is a beautiful department featuring the Hallmark logo and colors with the full 'Expressions' line from Hallmark," said Jodie Daubert, vice president, GM/HBC and fuel.The

CARLISLE, Pa. -- Giant Food Stores here will complete the conversion of its greeting card section to a new Hallmark-branded store-within-a-store format in all 268 retail locations by the end of this week, company officials said.

"It is a beautiful department featuring the Hallmark logo and colors with the full 'Expressions' line from Hallmark," said Jodie Daubert, vice president, GM/HBC and fuel.

The change began with Giant Food Stores, a division of Ahold USA, Quincy, Mass., during the second week of August and includes Giant-operated Tops Markets, Buffalo, N.Y.; Martin's Food Markets and Martin's Super Food stores.

The retail chain will launch a marketing campaign over the next few weeks to make consumers aware of the new offering. Although final details are still being worked out, "the marketing plan will include an in-store approach, so we can speak to the customers who are already in our stores, as well as an out-of-store marketing approach for the customers who may not normally visit the department," Daubert said.

The retailer is converting from an American Greetings, Cleveland, Ohio, merchandised section. American Greetings declined to comment on the change. Hallmark, Kansas City, Mo., could not be reached.

"This is an opportunity we were presented with that matches up well with our customer base and offers a high-quality product at a significant value," Daubert said.

As part of the conversion through Hallmark, Giant will be incorporating the "Sinceramente" Hispanic line and the "Mahogany" African American line of greeting cards as well as the "Value Zone" line of greeting cards, which are priced at under $1. Licensed products include plates, cups, party supplies, gift bags and gift wrap.

The new format is in line with Giant Food's ongoing efforts to offer customers a convenient shopping experience. "What we're trying to do is eliminate a trip for the customer. Everyone is so busy right now that if we can save them time as well as money, it is a perfect fit with our one-stop-shopping solution," Daubert said.

Brand awareness and brand preference played a part in the decision to convert the section, Daubert told SN. "Hallmark is a first-class service organization, offering a lot of national advertising support, so we are able to offer a very high-quality product that the customers want, at a significant value.

"We are very excited about it and think it's a great compliment to what we have to offer in the stores, including one-stop-shopping convenience for the customer and continuing to offer 'A'-quality products at a value," she said.