Food Lion on Johns Island set for an overhaul (copy) (copy)

Fifteen Food Lion supermarkets in the Charleston area, including one on Johns Island shown above, are part of the North Carolina-based company's $158 million renovation of 82 South Carolina stores and 10 in North Carolina. Work is expected to be completed this summer. Warren L. Wise/Staff

A North Carolina grocery store chain is beefing up many of its South Carolina supermarkets, including 15 in the Charleston area.

Salisbury-based Food Lion will invest $158 million to upgrade the Lowcountry locations along with 67 others throughout South Carolina and 10 elsewhere. It also plans to hire nearly 2,000 workers in the stores as part of the overhaul plan.

The Charleston-area stores include four in North Charleston, two in West Ashley, two in the Ladson area, and one each on peninsular Charleston and James and Johns islands. Others are in Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, Ravenel and Summerville.

Among the improvements, six S.C. stores — including the Ravenel location and others in Andrews, Georgetown, Columbia, Florence and Dillon — will be equipped with  walk-in produce coolers to keep fruits and vegetables fresher longer, the grocer said. 

The investment is meant to reinvigorate the stores with an expanded assortment of products, including more local, natural, organic and gluten-free items. Deli/bakery and customer service areas also will be enhanced. Additionally, hand-battered fried chicken will be available in the deli area once the upgrades are completed at all the stores.

"Food Lion is proud to have been a part of the many towns and cities we serve throughout South Carolina for 43 years, and we are even more excited to bring exciting new offerings, services and a new look to these markets," Meg Ham, president, said in a written statement.

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She described the investment as "significant," adding that the goal is "to offer a new grocery shopping experience."

The stores will remain open during the makeovers, which should be completed by late summer.

The supermarket operator opened its doors as Food Town in 1957 in Salisbury, between Charlotte and Greenboro. It was renamed Food Lion in 1983.

The chain is now owned by Ahold Delhaize, a Dutch retail investor, and operates more than 1,100 grocery stores with 63,000 employees in 10 states.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.