Stop & Shop unveils small store format

Stop & Shop unveils small store format

New concept part of brand refresh at Ahold Delhaize USA chain

Stop & Shop has launched a small store concept amid a brand repositioning by parent Ahold Delhaize USA.

The Quincy, Mass.-based grocer on Friday opened a 20,950-square-foot store in Newton Highlands, Mass. Besides ushering in a new format, the store will be the first location in Massachusetts to feature Stop & Shop’s new logo and updated design, the company said.

Though smaller, the Newton Highlands store — located in the Newton Nexus shopping center — carries a full produce assortment, including more organic and locally sourced items, according to Stop & Shop. The store also serves up ample grab-and-go, healthy meal options, including a full-service deli, a fresh salad bar and store-made sushi.  

Customers will find new in-store experiences as well, such as a smoker offering slow-cooked meat like brisket and baby back ribs and a kombucha fountain where patrons can fill up their own growlers. And due to roll out in January is a do-it-yourself machine that will enable shoppers to create and bottle their own blends of olive oil and vinegar.

In line with the convenience of the small format, mobile payment technology helps customers get in and out of the store quicker. Stop & Shop said those using the Scan It! mobile app can scan their items and pay with their smartphone. Shoppers, too, can place online orders through Peapod, Ahold Delhaize USA’s online grocery unit, and pick up their items curbside, delivered to their car by a store associate.

The Newton Highlands store’s grand opening includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday and community-focused events — giveaways, food samplings and family entertainment — running through the weekend. Stop & Shop said the new location will create about 100 jobs in the area.

“We are excited to share our new store with the Newton community and proud to show the local community our new offerings that are centered around making grocery shopping more convenient for our customers,” Stacy Wiggins, senior vice president of operations for Stop & Shop, said in a statement. “We know our customers’ needs are evolving, and we’re continuing to improve our shopping experience accordingly.”  

Stop & Shop’s Newton Highlands store reflects Ahold Delhaize USA’s revamped small-format strategy. In February 2017, the company announced that as part of a reorganization it would fold the Fresh Formats LLC division — which created the bfresh small-box concept — into Stop & Shop. Later, in November 2017, Stop & Shop President Mark McGowan said the chain “plans to develop new, small store format opportunities.” Two bfresh stores remain open in Somerville and Allston, Mass.

This past October, fellow Ahold Delhaize USA chain Giant Food Stores unveiled plans for a smaller format for urban markets. Called Giant Heirloom Market, the 9,500-square-foot store is now under construction in downtown Philadelphia and will offer fresh, natural, seasonal and flavor-focused foods and daily essentials. Carlisle, Pa.-based Giant said it plans several Giant Heirloom Markets for Philadelphia.

Stop & Shop represents Ahold Delhaize’s largest business, and the company is working to reinvigorate growth at the chain. At an investor event last month, Ahold Delhaize said Stop & Shop draws 67% of households in its marketplace as shoppers and holds a 17.4% market share — tops in its operating area — but sales growth has been virtually flat.

Over the next five years, plans call for Stop & Shop to roll out a new look and shopping experience at its 412 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey. The brand refresh got under way in October at 21 stores in the Hartford, Conn., area. The pilot includes a modernized store format and a new logo that reflect a more customer-centric strategy based on convenience, particularly a wider array of fresh, fast, healthy and local food options and meal solutions.

Chainwide, 60 to 80 stores are slated to be upgraded annually under the multiyear program, with capital expenditures expected to total $1.6 billion to $2 billion. Stop & Shop stores on Long Island, N.Y., are next in line for upgrades, starting in the spring of 2019. The third market (not yet identified) will follow in the fall of 2019, with the next two markets in 2020. The program is expected to wrap up in 2023.

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