BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Haggen Inc. here said it will close two stores in mid-September — following three other closings earlier this year — to focus on building the Haggen Northwest Fresh brand at better-performing stores.
The company previously closed three Top Food & Drug locations — in Tacoma, Lacey and Federal Way, Wash. It said the two additional stores it plans to close next month — in Bellevue and Shoreline, Wash. — were both remodeled and converted over the past two years from the price-impact Top banner to the more upscale Haggen brand over the past two years, albeit under different company management.
"Those two stores were remodeled to see if they could be rekindled," Clement Stevens, co-president told SN. "However, they have always been a challenge, and even after they were re-bannered, the new approach did not work in those stores."
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Aside from the two stores set to close next month, the company has 23 stores remaining in Washington and Oregon. Once one of the remaining Top stores is converted to the Haggen Northwest Fresh banner on Aug. 14, the chain will have 17 Haggen stores and six Tops.
"We're happy with the Northwest Fresh brand, which offers upgraded perishables, and we think it will make us stronger to operate that format," Stevens said.
The company is still assessing which stores to convert. "We don't consider whether a location is currently a Haggen or a Top — we look at each property and decide individually what customers there would like."
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The ultimate goal is to operate all its stores under the single Haggen Northwest Fresh banner, Stevens said. "We want to get as many as we can under one banner so we can build a marketing plan around that and make sure we speak to customers in one voice.
"The Haggen family started opening Top price-impact stores in the 1980s, before a lot of other companies offered price- impact stores. But we think operating under one banner will differentiate our brand, and we still have four or five stores we want to upgrade to the Haggen Northwest Fresh format," Stevens noted, though he did not specify which ones.
Existing Haggen stores run between 60,000 square feet and 70,000 square feet, while Top stores range from 75,000 square feet to 85,000 square feet.