LOS ANGELES — Smart & Final Co. here said last week it plans to enter the Denver market this summer with five locations featuring a hybrid format that combines aspects of its Smart & Final Extra and Henry's stores.
The company plans to operate the Denver stores under a new banner — SmartCo Foods — with a regional office staffed with mostly local personnel, Randall Oliver, the company's director of corporate communications, told SN.
The five SmartCo stores will be located in units previously owned by Albertsons LLC, Boise, Idaho, though all have been closed for some time.
The stores, ranging in size from 40,000 to 61,000 square feet, will be the largest operated by Smart & Final, whose stores generally run from 17,000 to 35,000 square feet.
“We saw an opportunity in the Denver market that made it look attractive to us,” Oliver explained. It is also a market in which the Smart & Final name is not known, “so there were basically no preconceptions about us,” he added.
He declined to comment on whether Smart & Final has plans to expand in the region beyond the five stores.
Store openings will be staggered, beginning in late June and continuing through late July or early August, he said. The openings will be marked by a major advertising campaign that is still in the planning stages, he added.
Besides shipping merchandise to the stores through its regular distribution network, the company also plans to utilize more local suppliers at its SmartCo stores, Oliver said — “to provide added freshness and to meet local tastes,” he explained.
Asked about pricing, Oliver said, “Our stores offer high quality at value pricing.”
The company operates 288 stores, including 195 Smart & Final non-membership warehouse stores in California, Nevada, Arizona and northern Mexico; 53 Cash & Carry stores in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho; and 40 farmers' market-style stores (32 Henry's in California and eight Sun Harvests in Texas, all acquired from Wild Oats Markets in 2007).
Smart & Final, previously controlled by French retailer Groupe Casino, was bought in 2008 by Apollo Management, an investment company based in Purchase, N.Y.
In the last few years the company has opened 32 Smart & Final Extra stores in California, which are 10,000-15,000 square feet larger than other Smart & Final stores, with expanded selections of product for both business and household customers.
The SmartCo stores will incorporate those elements with elements from the Henry's stores, including a broader perishables offering; full-service delis and scratch bakeries at some locations; meat cutters on-site; and bulk bins for some dry groceries, Oliver said.
“We did a lot of research to be sure we continue to carry products purchased by the business customers who shop with us most frequently while also meeting the needs of household customers,” he explained.