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Family_Fare_remodel_Allendale_MI.png Photos: SpartanNash
The Family Fare remodel in Allendale, Mich.

Family Fare rebranding expanded by SpartanNash

Enhanced shopping experience debuts at 14 more stores in Michigan

SpartanNash Co. has relaunched 18 Family Fare supermarkets in West Michigan as part of a brand repositioning for the banner.

The $18.3 million investment includes a new Family Fare logo, an updated look and feel for the stores and a range of in-store enhancements to add “value beyond price” and create a more engaging shopping experience, SpartanNash said. With the remodeled stores, which held grand-reopening events over the weekend, the company also created more than 120 new jobs.

SpartanNash piloted the rebranding at four Family Fare locations last year and completed upgrades at 14 more stores on Sunday, according to President and CEO David Staples.

“This positioning will be key to the differentiation of our operation by sharpening our focus on affordable wellness; value beyond price; a fun and indulging shopping experience, with a focus on local products; and providing a socially smart and community-focused store operation,” Staples said yesterday in a conference call with analysts on first-quarter results.

“Key elements of our offering include in-store, cut-to-order fruit and vegetables; new meat cases featuring in-store, butcher-crafted bratwurst, sausages and other seasonal favorites; gourmet [Dohjo] doughnuts crafted in-store; expanded meal solutions; better-for-him and -her health and beauty departments; as well as special marketing and pricing strategy,” he explained. “We continue to be happy with the consumer response thus far and believe these efforts will increasingly position us to win in the current retail environment.”

Through the brand repositioning, Family Fare will serve up more value with competitive pricing and weekly deals plus added convenience, SpartanNash noted. That includes offerings such as Thrill on the Grill, grab-and-go meals like lobster mac and cheese, and ready-made sides and starters. Those items also can be ordered online and delivered to customers’ homes within two hours or picked up in stores through the company’s Fast Lane shopping service.

Differentiation from competitors also is a linchpin of the rebranding. For example, SpartanNash said Family Fare will carry thousands of locally sourced products throughout the store, including fresh produce from local farmers. The banner, too, is adding “a sense of indulgence and discovery,” the company said, with unique offerings like Betty Kaye’s smoked meats prepared on-site by Family Fare pit masters and paired with special rubs, sauces and hot sides for a take-home, family-style meal. In-store taquerias feature full-service taco and burrito bars with carnitas, carne asada, chipotle chicken and vegetable rajas, along with fresh-made tortillas and tamales.

Family_Fare_Betty_Kayes_Smokehouse_Georgetown_Township_MI.pngBetty Kaye’s smoked meats are prepared on-site by Family Fare pit masters.

There’s also fresh-made, gourmet popcorn in trendy flavors like cheddar gold, candy corn and Midwest mix, as well as the Fresh Divide produce prep station, where customers grab a bucket, choose fruit and vegetables, and then bring it back to be sliced, diced, chopped or julienned free while they shop. Family Fare offers hundreds of pre-cut fruit and vegetables, infused water and cold-pressed juices as well.

“Certain of the players have chosen to be pretty aggressive on price,” Staples said in discussing the current retail environment. “But I think our positioning puts us in a place where we can take these kinds of opportunities to bring craftsmanship back into the food business, offer more alternatives than some of the newer competitors, and have a pride in craftsmanship — whether that's in our cut fruit and vegetables made to order, whether it's in gourmet doughnuts or whether it's in a butcher-focused meat department that so many others have abandoned.”

Customer wellness also is a core focus of Family Fare’s repositioning, SpartanNash said. In-store pharmacies provide low- and no-cost generic drugs and Timely Meds personalized pill-punch packs to ease medication therapy management. A “Living Well” team at the store also will assist customers in finding solutions to promote their well-being, ranging from gluten-free, plant-based proteins to natural and organic products to beauty care like essential oils and bath bombs, the company said.

And to be more “socially smart,” the upgraded Family Fare stores house brighter, more efficient refrigerated cases, which SpartanNash said reduce energy consumption by 20% and keep products fresher for longer. Items across the store from the company’s Our Family and Open Acres private label lines also feature clean, easy-to-read labels and reduced ingredient lists.

Family_Fare_Fresh_Divide_bucket.pngAt the Fresh Divide station, shoppers get a bucket, select their fruit and/or vegetables and then have them prepped to order.

Family Fare supermarkets with the rebranding include locations in Allendale, Byron Center, Coopersville, Georgetown Township, Grand Rapids (five stores), Grandville, Holland (two stores), Hudsonville, Jenison, Kentwood, Wyoming (two stores) and Zeeland, Mich.

“While we will incur additional marketing, promotional and labor costs associated with these launches during the second quarter, we expect to begin realizing benefits later in fiscal 2019 and through 2020,” Staples said.

Overall, SpartanNash operates 160 grocery stores, mainly under the banners Family Fare, Martin’s Super Markets, D&W Fresh Market, VG’s Grocery, Dan’s Supermarket and Family Fresh Market.

In a research note Monday following SpartanNash’s earnings call, Jefferies analyst Christopher Mandeville said the brand upgrade with Family Fare shows promise.

“Management discussed at length the numerous initiatives it is taking in order to improve sales as part of its brand repositioning (e.g., offering more local and value-added service departments),” he wrote. “Having seen two of four initial stores to have received these new programs in the past year, we appreciate the efforts, and we view management’s decision to expand the remodels to another 14 Family Fares as of yesterday as a positive sign of what traction SpartanNash is seeing from the first wave.”

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