Food Lion launched rebranded stores in Charlotte on Wednesday, a move company officials say positions the Salisbury-based grocery chain for growth.
Food Lion, owned by Belgian grocery giant Delhaize Group, has dropped prices on 6,000 items, increased product variety and introduced fresher produce in 269 stores in the Carolinas, including 27 in Charlotte.
Food Lion lost market share in the Charlotte region last year, falling from 19.2 percent of the market to 17.7 percent, according to data from Chain Store Guide. The company also closed more than 100 underperforming stores.
Wednesdays move is the third phase of Food Lions rebranding, launched in May 2011. The new strategy already has been carried out in areas including Raleigh, Fayetteville and Virginia. Food Lion also has hired about 800 new workers as part of the strategy, which includes an increased focus on employee training.
Food Lion President Cathy Green Burns and other company officials helped celebrate the launch at the Food Lion on Park Road in Dilworth.
Twenty-eight North Carolina stores, including the Food Lion on North New Hope Road in Gastonia, also were reopened Wednesday after undergoing renovations as part of the rebranding.
Spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown said the Park Road store removed aisle displays to reduce clutter and created a more efficient checkout system. The store also added products to its prepackaged organic produce section.
Green Burns said the new strategy will help grow Food Lions position in the Charlotte market, which is currently led by Wal-Mart and Harris Teeter.
Charlotte is our hometown, she said. Its a critically important market for us.
She said Food Lions Raleigh market share has grown since implementing the strategy.
Food Lion also saw an increase in number of transactions and number of items sold in the first quarter of 2012, according to a company press release. Delhaizes first quarter revenue grew 8.6 percent from 2011.
Regain lost share?
But Wisconsin-based supermarket analyst David Livingston said the new strategy likely wont be enough to regain Food Lions lost market share. Livingston said the growth of Wal-Mart and speciality stores like Whole Foods have made it increasingly difficult for Food Lion.
But at the Park Road store, assistant manager Mike Richardson said he already has seen an increase in business since the store began the rebranding process about five weeks ago.
Were getting back to the basics, he said. I think we can compete against Harris Teeter, Bi-Lo; we can compete against anybody.