SALISBURY, N.C. -- Food Lion here is picking up on, albeit a little slower, from Kash n' Karry, its corporate cousin in Tampa, Fla., the importance of pharmacy in building store traffic and as a convenience to shoppers.
With the opening of a new unit in Mount Pleasant, N.C., at the end of October, Food Lion, a subsidiary of Delhaize America, also based in Salisbury, confirmed it is dabbling in pharmacy. But the chain, with more than 1,100 units in 11 states, said this does not indicate a positioning as a retail pharmacy player.
"This is not a chainwide rollout," Delhaize spokeswoman Tawn Earnest stressed. "We have looked at real estate sites [for new stores] where we can justify it with market data and store expansions where there is enough room to include a pharmacy."
Still, the opening in late October marks the chain's fifth, compared to one at the beginning of this year. Food Lion, like sister company Kash n' Karry, is operating pharmacies under the banner of The Medicine Shoppe, St. Louis, Mo.
"We are not trying to establish ourselves in the minds of shoppers as the new pharmacy," Earnest continued. "We are bringing to our shoppers a pharmacy whose name and reputation is well established."
Food Lion's first pharmacy came two years ago along with the acquisition of a store in Winchester, Va. But the first concerted effort to build a pharmacy from the ground up came in the spring of this year. That makes four new units in the past half year, two in remodeled stores and two in brand new locations, according to Earnest.
And there are three more planned for new store openings before the end of 2000.
"This is a very small program right now," Earnest said. "Pharmacies are not a part of the standard Food Lion blueprint."
In addition to selected new stores, the retailer is putting the departments in Food Lions as part of an ongoing remodeling program. It is essentially an added service for customers where demographics demand it, according to Earnest. "It is decided on a case-by-case basis."
For example, she said, "some of our stores are in centers that don't currently have drug stores. It's an opportunity for us to grow our business but definitely it's convenience factor for our shoppers."
Kash n' Karry has set the pace for pharmacy operations within Delhaize America. In the 137-unit chain, there are 65 pharmacies, 62 of which are Medicine Shoppe franchises, corporately operated by the retailer.
For the current handful of pharmacies inside Food Lion, The Medicine Shoppe was the key to opening the departments, according to Earnest. "We are offering our shoppers what they know and trust," she said.