GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — While the Valu Land discount chain is still officially in the testing phase, parent company Spartan Stores here said that it has now opened enough locations to determine its fate over the long term.
Spartan operates eight Valu Land stores in a variety of locations serving various demographic customer bases in Michigan, Dennis Eidson, Spartan’s chief executive officer, said during a conference call discussing first-quarter earnings. While the company is still experimenting with the concept, Eidson said “I think we have enough boxes now with an assortment of demographics, [and] different regions of the state to be able to more effectively read this format and determine where we’re going to go long-term.”
Read more: Spartan Reports Q1 Results
Spartan launched Valu Land in early 2012 to test consumer acceptance of a limited-assortment discount store. It’s earliest stores are now in Spartans’ comparable-store sales base, Eidson said, and excluding a week of sales affected by the Easter holiday, comps during Spartan's first quarter were positive, he said.
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Eidson said the stores differ from Aldi and Save-A-Lot by offering more branded goods and service departments, but emphasized the company is still "tweaking" the concept.
In response to a question from an analyst, Eidson acknowledged that he was “intrigued” by the possibility that the format could be expanded as a result of Spartan’s pending merger with Nash Finch Co. and its largely rural retail store base.
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