STORE SPACES

Kroger to exit one of its markets

BY Antoinette Alexander

Kroger Co. is saying farewell to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

The supermarket giant confirmed that it will exit the Raleigh-Durham market on or about Aug. 14, by closing and selling its 14 locations. Kroger has had stores in the market since 1989.

“After a thorough evaluation of the market for a significant time period, we have decided to close our stores in the highly competitive Raleigh-Durham market,” said Jerry Clontz, president of the Mid-Atlantic division of Kroger. “While we have had some success, we have not been able to grow our business the way we would like in this market.
Added Clontz, “The retail environment is challenging and changing in Raleigh-Durham. Many retail analysts say the Raleigh-Durham market is over-stored.”

The closures will impact about 1,500 employees, more than half of which are part-time associates.

“We’re making every effort to assist our associates in finding employment,” said Clontz. “We will offer job fairs and job placement services to associates. Our associates also have access to our employee assistance programs to help them manage through this process.”

Food Lion snapped up one store and Crunch Fitness will also move into one location in Raleigh. Harris Teeter has announced that it will acquire eight stores in the Raleigh-Durham area. Clontz said Kroger is in discussions and exploring potential options for the remaining locations.
Harris Teeter expects the transaction to be completed in August and intends to finalize its remodel and re-opening plans while the stores are closed. Pharmacies at five of the purchased stores will remain open throughout the transition.

“Kroger has a long tradition of operating in this area, as does Harris Teeter” said Danna Robinson, communication manager for Harris Teeter. “We plan to invest in remodeling a number of these locations to better serve our shoppers in this growing and vibrant market.”

Kroger Mid-Atlantic worked with The Food Partners, a Washington, D.C.-based, grocery industry focused investment banking firm, as a strategic adviser for the divestiture of these stores.

Kroger Mid-Atlantic division operates 108 additional stores in Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio.

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STORE SPACES

First Look: Walmart debuts ‘smart’ grocery store concept in China

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart has opened its first small-format Walmart Supermarket, in Shenzhen, China, with five additional locations planned for the country by year-end. The new store is designed to deliver an integrated online and offline experience, with an emphasis on fresh foods, fast delivery, value and everyday convenience.

The 10,000-sq.-st. space, on the first floor of a multi-story structure, carries more than 8,000 items, with a localized assortment strategy tailored to the community. Designed by Tampa-based api(+), the store features a layout that seeks to enhance shopper convenience, with chilled vegetables, fresh fruit and frozen foods given prominence, alongside popular pre-prepared dishes. Prices are kept up to date through the use of electronic price tags.

Ninety percent of the inventory is also available online (on the Walmart Supermarket site at JD Doajia.) A high-tech stocking system allows associates to precisely locate products on the shelf and fulfill orders by the fastest product-picking route. The system enables home delivery as fast as 29 minutes to homes within 2 kilometers of the supermarket.

In addition to traditional checkout, the store offers Walmart’s “Scan & Go” option whereby customers can simply use a mini program on WeChat (China’s top social media platform) to scan the barcodes on products as they shop, without needing to download a program or use any special equipment. They then pay via their mobile device and quickly verify payment, bypassing the checkout counter. In all, there are three Scan & Go payment-verification stations, three self-service checkouts, and three traditional checkouts with cashiers. The space provides high-speed Wi-Fi to ensure customers can access the Internet to use Scan & Go and other online services in store.

In a two-month pilot, Walmart said, more than one in five customers chose to pay through Scan & Go, with about 95% of these planning to use the new way of payment again to save time. Overall, more than 50% of Walmart Supermarket customers chose online ordering, Scan & Go or self-checkout during the pilot period.

Walmart Supermarket also offers a variety of everyday services to meet the needs of local residents. Customers can take advantage of online options to buy e-gift cards, schedule home appliance maintenance, arrange flower delivery, make travel reservations, and more, without visiting the store. Available in-store services include laundry, key cutting, shoe repair and more.

The store has quickly become a daily shopping destination for nearby residents, according to api(+).

“Our team worked to create an environment supporting efficient labor and product handling and convenience for customers, as well as an effective use of technology to reduce operating costs and speed transaction time,” the design and architecture firm stated.

For more slideshows, click here.

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STORE SPACES

Uniqlo ramps up expansion in Canada

BY Marianne Wilson

Uniqlo is increasing its store footprint up north.

The Japanese apparel retailer said it will open four stores in Canada this fall. The total includes three locations in the greater Toronto area, at Vaughan Mills, CF Markville and Square One Shopping Centre, and a store in British Columbia, at Coquitlam Centre, Coquitlam.

The largest of the new stores to open in the Toronto market will be at Vaughan Mills, with a sales floor of more than 20,000 sq. ft. all on one floor. The Uniqlo stores at CF Markville and Square One Shopping Centre will measure approximately 15,000 sq. ft. and be located on one floor. The Coquitlam Centre outpost will occupy more than 12,000 sq. ft.

With the opening of the four sites, Uniqlo will have nine stores in Canada. The company currently has 47 U.S. locations.

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