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    Bi-Lo Introducing Value Format

    Food$mart to debut in Lenoir, N.C.; other, as yet unspecified, locations to follow.

    Bi-Lo Supermarkets said yesterday it was rolling out a new no-frills banner, Food$mart. A Bi-Lo store in Lenoir, N.C. will be the first to convert to the new concept, closing today for the overhaul. The first Food$mart will have its grand opening May 7.

    The format is designed for customers who want and need very low prices, and are willing to accept a basic shopping experience, the grocer said.

    "Food$mart will have select regional and national brands, along with our Southern Home private label products," noted Bi-Lo director of new business development Rich Ramey. "We will be able to take advantage of exceptional values from manufacturers for limited-time or limited-quantity offerings."

    Food$mart will be able to offer lower prices by streamlining programs and services. For instance, store hours will be to 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, shorter than those of most conventional grocers. Additionally, there may be fewer sizes of a particular item available, and deli/bakery products will be set out on self-serve tables.

    In contrast to similar concepts, Food$mart will have free bags and assistance with bagging groceries. Shoppers will receive discounts without paying club memberships or having to buy extra-large club-sized SKUs.

    Quality, however, will remain high, the grocer promises. "Our produce will still be triple-inspected, and we will have fresh-cut meats," said Ramey. "The difference between Walter's Produce and what we will offer at Food$mart is that the sizes may not be as uniform in a bag of potatoes or apples, but the quality will still be excellent."

    Bi-Lo is currently looking at other locations for future conversion to the Food$mart  banner, but has not decided on sites yet. Workers at the Lenoir Bi-Lo will be offered jobs at Food$mart or nearby Bi-Lo stores.

    Mauldin, S.C.-based Bi-Lo operates 222 supermarkets in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Tennessee. The company employs about 16,000 people.

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