What's In Store

Bi-Lo exec: Lower prices will attract more shoppers

A Bi-Lo store in Greenville, S.C.
A Bi-Lo store in Greenville, S.C. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

The chief executive of Bi-Lo’s parent company says he expects the grocer’s recent move to slash prices on more than 1,000 items will bring more shoppers to its 182 stores.

“We expect to see our customers shop more with us because we’re giving them what they’ve said is most important – lower prices,” Ian McLeod, president and chief executive officer of Bi-Lo parent Southeastern Grocers, told the Observer in an interview.

The price cuts, announced this month, come at a time when grocery stores, particularly those in the Charlotte region, are fighting harder for consumer dollars.

Bi-Lo is the No. 5 grocery store in the Charlotte area, though its market share declined slightly this year from 2014. The company has scaled back its local presence in recent years but still competes with other low-cost grocers like Food Lion.

The average price cut at Bi-Lo is 17 percent, with some reductions up to 53 percent, the grocer said. Crest Mint Toothpaste, for example, is now $2.05, 36 percent cheaper than it was previously, and Breyers Vanilla Ice Cream is $4.50, 25 percent cheaper than before.

Bi-Lo, which operates 25 stores in the Charlotte region, has invested $15 million on the new pricing program, which McLeod says is “here to stay.”

He adds that the price cuts were a reaction to what Bi-Lo customers, whom he describes as “hard-working families shopping on a budget,” had been asking for.

The price cuts were made possible by a series of “efficiency improvement programs,” McLeod says.

In July, Salisbury-based Food Lion said it was lowering prices on thousands of staple items after “extensive customer research.” Harris Teeter last year announced it was lowering prices on thousands of items in its Charlotte-area stores. The Matthews grocer said the price cuts were made possible by “better efficiencies” resulting from its acquisition by the Kroger Co.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta