With a background at Hispanic retailers Vallarta Supermarkets and Mi Pueblo Foods as well as upscale chain Jensen’s Fine Foods, United Supermarkets’ new bakery director, Gaston Luna, told SN he sees a lot of potential to enhance the department at the retailer’s different banners.
One opportunity is to expand products across the banners, Luna said. For example, authentic Hispanic bakery items from the Amigos banner could be sold at Market Street, where local demographics make sense to do so.
“And they shouldn’t have to go to a designated store that’s Hispanic driven to be able to get those Hispanic products,” said Luna. “We want to concentrate on having those high-quality items at both locations so that we can make it obviously easier for customers. They don’t have to drive to the other side of town to find one certain product or the other.”
At the same time, United has made a recent effort to market signature items called Our Very Best at each of its banners.
“These are items that we take the pride obviously to make, and we can literally say, this is our best from Market Street, our best from Amigos, or our best from United. So that we’re really pushing that so that customers can see from those products what we represent under those banners,” said Luna.
Examples of Our Very Best items at Market Street include black pepper artisan bread, cinnamon rolls and Texas brownies. During lunchtime, all Market Street locations even set up a brownie bar.
While United has made these items for some time, the retailer has stepped up promotional efforts to increase customer awareness.
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“We want people to feel like this is their department. This is where they can come and get those items that they’re not able to get anywhere else. And we really do put a lot of time into these,” said Luna. “In designing these, based on store, based on city, on what items our guests are craving more than anything.”
United also wants to make sure customers know about its sampling program in the bakery.
“Anything in that department that they can find, they have the freedom to sample,” said Luna.
Creating more personal connections with customers is one of Luna’s biggest goals for United’s bakery program.
“But I think what I’d really like to push more than anything is that connection with the guest — keep them surprised, keep them happy, and give them a place to definitely to come back to.”
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