CHICAGO — Supervalu's Jewel-Osco division debuted its entry into the small-format store race last week with a location in this city's trendy Lincoln Park neighborhood.
The 16,000-square-foot store, dubbed Urban Fresh by Jewel, seeks to offer convenience and high quality in the form of prepared and partially prepared lunch and dinner offerings, a spokesman for the chain told SN.
“Right now this is a one-of-a-kind store, and we don't have any plans to roll this out any further,” said Miguel Alba, the Jewel spokesman.
He said the “main goal” of the store was to “learn as much as possible.” The store is soliciting feedback from customers through a new website, urbanfresh.net.
It is located at the site of a former Sunflower Market, the organic-and-natural specialty chain that Minneapolis-based Supervalu scrapped last year after a brief test.
Alba said the Urban Fresh concept has no other connection to the Sunflower location, however. “This is completely a creation of Jewel,” he said. “It is our response to the urban lifestyle trend.”
The area includes an upscale urban population, many of whom commute to work in other areas of the city.
“These are people who are busy and require ready-to-go solutions,” Alba said.
The opening of the store follows the debut in May of Safeway's “The Market,” a small-format test store operated under the auspices of its Vons division, which appears to be similarly positioned. Wal-Mart Stores is expected to debut its four Marketside locations, also emphasizing prepared foods, in Phoenix within weeks.
Among the offerings at the Urban Fresh by Jewel store are 300 varieties of beer and wine, and 300 varieties of cheese. It offers about 6,000 SKUs, compared with a typical supermarket's 45,000 offerings, but includes basic staples like milk, eggs, bread and produce in addition to specialty and prepared offerings.
According to local reports, the prepared-foods menu includes sushi, sandwiches, rotisserie chicken and macaroni and cheese.
Of the store's 10 checkout lanes, six are self-checkout, the company said. That parallels the self-checkout offering at Fresh & Easy, the small-format chain that Tesco is rolling out in the Southwest. Reports have indicated Tesco was eyeing Chicago for future locations.
Alba said the Urban Fresh store has about 75 employees, vs. 200 at a typical Jewel.