The DeMoulas Market Basket chain took its seafood sales from less than 1% of total store sales to 2% for fresh seafood and 2% to 2.5% for frozen seafood, said director of seafood Bob Hartman at a Seafood Expo North America panel.
Eight years ago the chain radically expanded its commitment to seafood.
“When everybody was downsizing, we just expanded. We took our fresh fish departments from a 12-foot self-service department to 24 feet, that’s just self-service,” Hartman said.
Stores with full-service seafood departments expanded from 12 to 24 feet in space.
“And our frozen display, which was probably one of our biggest growths, we went from 12-foot multi-level cases ... and we put in another 16 to 70 feet of coffin cases, depending on the location of the store.”
When DeMoulas opened a perishables distribution center — 15,000 feet of the space was dedicated to seafood.
The chain has focused on making seafood more accessible for shoppers.
“We’re doing live demos in our stores, providing our customers with the opportunity to try seafood and see how easy it is to prepare,” said Hartman.
Within the last two years, the chain has started offering seafood in its prepared food department in front of the store. In a recent promotion for Lent, DeMoulas Market Basket sold 5,600 breaded, fried haddock dinners in just one week in 30 stores.