STORE SPACES

Peapod rolls out ‘virtual grocery store’ concept

BY Alaric Dearment

Chicago — An online grocery delivery service is launching "virtual grocery stores" at commuter rail stations across the country.

Peapod.com, owned by the U.S. subsidiary of Dutch supermarket operator Royal Ahold, announced it would launch more than 100 of the virtual grocery stores at commuter rail stations in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, New Jersey and Connecticut. Commuters in the markets Peapod serves spend an hour in transit to and from work each day, according to Census data.

The "stores" consist of billboards that allow commuters with iPhones, iPads and Android phones to scan a QR code, download an app and start shopping by scanning bar codes on the products. Peapod has made deals with Barilla, Coca-Cola, Kimberly Clark, Proctor & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser as part of the new initiative.

The initiative is a larger rollout of virtual grocery stores that Peapod has gradually unveiled at commuter and rapid transit rail stations in places like Chicago and Philadelphia.

"Getting your groceries on the way home from work just got a whole new meaning," Peapod COO Mike Brennan said. "With schedules that are more demanding than ever and people spending 200-plus hours a year in transit, our hope is that consumers will take advantage of our virtual stores and mobile app while they’re on the go and enjoy the time saved when they’re at home."

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Ikea stores to sell only LED lighting by 2016

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Plymouth Meeting, Pa. — Ikea said Monday that it plans to sell only energy-efficient LED lighting by 2016. The move comes two years after the Swedish retailer phased out incandescent bulbs.

Ikea said it believes the shift to the longer-lasting bulbs will help set an environmentally friendly example in the industry. It also will help save the company about $10 million to $20 million a year, or 10%, in lighting costs at its 300 stores around the globe, said Steve Howard, the company’s chief sustainability officer.

"You can have kids, they can grow up and go to college and you can have the same light," Howard said of LED bulbs, which can last about 20 years — longer than incandescent or halogen bulbs. "There’s money to make in your own ceiling."

Ikea announced in 2010 that it planned to have all incandescent bulbs out of its stores by 2011. The company then shifted toward only selling more efficient options including compact fluorescent bulbs, LED and halogen lamps.

While the purchase price for LED bulbs remains more than the other options, LEDs are more efficient and give off better light, Howard said. LEDs still cost several times more than other bulbs.

"We think that this can drive market acceptance in a good way," he said of the shift by the company. The all-LED shift will take place by a combination of taking the other items off the shelves and just letting them sell out, Howard said.

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Ascena plots expansion in Indiana

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Suffern, N.Y. — Ascena Retail Group Inc. said Thursday it is planning a $34 million expansion that will add new equipment, systems and about 40,000 sq. ft. of space to its Greencastle, Ind., distribution facility.

The apparel retailer said that the objective is to turn its Greencastle facility into a primary e-commerce distribution site. The facility is located about 40 miles west of Indianapolis and was part of Ascena’s acquisition of Charming Shoppes Inc.

Ascena said it plans to begin hiring new distribution, warehouse and management workers this fall and hopes to add up to 242 new jobs within six years.

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