Pushing ahead with a chainwide store upgrade program, Food Lion today held grand openings at 23 locations in the greater Charlottesville and Harrisonburg, Va., markets.
The Ahold Delhaize USA grocery chain said the stores, serving a combined 14 towns and cities in the area, opened to the public at 8 a.m. on Wednesday after ribbon-cutting ceremonies. As part of the events, the first 100 customers in line received a Food Lion reusable grocery bag, a Food Lion branded apron and a $10 gift card, while one shopper got a $250 card. Later in the day, Food Lion will present another round of $10 gift cards to 100 customers at all 23 stores.
Along with store renovations and other enhancements, the $40 million project includes the hiring of 400 more store associates to help improve customer service and the shopping experience, Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion noted.
“Food Lion has nourished our neighbors in the greater Charlottesville-Harrisonburg community for 37 years, and we're excited to bring these improvements to our 23 local stores," President Meg Ham said in a statement. "We've created a new grocery shopping experience through the significant investments in our stores, associates and communities. From our expanded variety and product assortment, newly reorganized stores, to a more efficient check-out experience, every change we’ve made will make it easier for our customers to find the quality products they have come to expect from Food Lion.”
Remodeled stores will carry a wider variety of products relevant to customers in their communities, such as more local, natural, organic and gluten-free items, with local produce featured in a section called “Local Goodness,” according to Food Lion. These stores also will have an easier-to-navigate layout, enhanced deli and bakery departments, and price reductions.
All remodeled stores will offer an expanded assortment of beef, pork, poultry milk, eggs, bottled water, cereal, coffee and other items under Ahold Delhaize USA’s Nature’s Promise organic/natural brand, which is free of artificial additives, preservatives and colors. The updated locations also will feature hand-battered fried chicken made in-store; more craft beers and limited-reserve wines; and expanded offerings of international specialty products, complete meals for families, grab-and-go items, pre-sliced deli meats and cheeses, and premium and ready-to-drink coffee.
Select stores, too, will offer fruit cut in-store plus a bigger seafood selection, Food Lion said. In addition, two stores — in Ruckersville and Charlottesville — will house walk-in produce coolers to keep fruit and vegetables fresher for longer time periods.
Besides Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Ruckersville, Virginia stores being remodeled under Food Lion’s “Easy, Fresh and Affordable” strategy are located in Verona, Stuarts Draft, Staunton, Elkton, Waynesboro, Palmyra, Timberville, Grottoes, Madison, Fisherville and Scottsville.
“When coupled with our weekly sales and promotions, customers will see that we have made it easier for them to nourish their families with healthy foods on a budget,” Ham added.
With the project’s completion, Food Lion has upgraded 80% of its approximately 1,030 stores across its 10-state operating area in the Southeast over the past four years.
Earlier this month, the chain unveiled 92 remodeled stores in the greater Myrtle Beach, Florence, Columbia and Charleston, S.C., areas that were upgraded in a $158 million investment. And in late June, the retailer launched online grocery pickup at 105 stores in the Carolinas and Virginia under its Food Lion To-Go click-and-collect service.