Food Lion this week introduced the latest plan in a series of initiatives intended to improve its standing in the Southeastern grocery industry.
The Salisbury, N.C.-based chain, which has about 14 supermarkets in the tri-county area, unveiled a new store logo and rebranding campaign Wednesday. The changes will involve updated store designs and a number of customer service improvements, according to a statement.
"Today, we are officially embarking on a new strategy to make shopping easier for our customers," said Beth Newlands Campbell, president of Food Lion. "Our customers have told us that they want a grocery experience where it's easy to shop, easy to save and easy to figure out what is for dinner tonight. Based on their feedback, and continuing to build on Food Lion's longstanding heritage of low prices and convenient locations, we will work to own the easiest full shop experience in the Southeast, anchored by a strong commitment to freshness, affordability and the communities we serve."
Food Lion, owned by Belgian grocery company Delhaize, has introduced a few efforts in the past six months to improve its image after closing about 126 stores in 2012, which included all of its locations in Mount Pleasant and one in West Ashley.
Delhaize also recently sold smaller grocery store brands - Harveys, Sweet Bay and Reid's - to Food Lion's rival, Bi-Lo.
Lorrie Griffith, the editor of regional food industry publication The Shelby Report, said Food Lion's rebranding efforts aren't exactly new.
"Food Lion has been doing remodels in various areas for the past several years, so I think this is just one more step along the way for them and trying to return to the success they had a few years ago," Griffith said.
In November, the company announced an improvement project that applied to 169 stores in Southeastern markets such as Charleston and Wilmington, N.C. Prices were lowered, store associates were trained for better customer service, and new coupon kiosks called MVP Savings Centers were installed in the stores.
Food Lion said in statement that the most recent rebranding campaign will extend that initiative to all of its stores by the end of June.
Stores will be updated with a new store format over time, it said. The company will start in the Wilimington market,, where 29 Food Lion stores are to be updated by September.
Other changes aren't as drastic. For example, blue bags will now be used for refrigerated items so that customers can easily identify them when they're unloading at home.
Griffith said many supermarkets are focusing on how to improve their offerings because the industry has become so competitive.
"You have super centers, drugstores, convenience stores that are all trying to sell food to consumers, which chips away at the market share for grocers," she said. "It's really competitive for grocers in the Southeast and really across the country."
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail