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Heinen’s Fine Foods, one of Cleveland’s oldest family-owned supermarket chains, is looking to expand beyond its home state for the first time.
Owners Jeff and Tom Heinen have announced plans to open their first store next summer in Barrington, an affluent suburb about 40 miles northwest of Chicago, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. This store would be the 82-year-old, 17-store chain’s first location outside of Northeast Ohio and the beginning of what is planned as a multistore expansion into the greater Chicago area, the Plain Dealer reported.
Heinen’s plans to invest more than $10 million to convert a former Staples office supply store into one a 38,000-square-foot supermarket, expected to employ about 80 people.
“We wanted to be in a community that was large enough to support multiple stores, and we came to the decision that if we were going to grow, we were going to have to go outside of Cleveland,” Jeff Heinen told the Plain Dealer.
The Chicago metro area is within an eight-hour drive of the Heinen’s Ohio warehouses, bakeries and distribution center.
“Chicago is going to be a great market for Heinen’s, because it’s very much like Cleveland and Northeast Ohio,” Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director of the New York-based Strategic Resource Group, told the Plain Dealer. “Barrington is one of the most affluent suburbs and one of the two fastest-growing suburbs in Chicago. … Heinen’s is very skilled at social media and is great in terms of customer service. Once people see how strong Heinen’s is in terms of food, service, price and quality, they will switch.”
Both of Chicago’s leading grocery chains, Jewel-Osco and Dominick’s, have lost market share while smaller, family-owned independents have grown. Both of these chains have stores near the proposed Heinen’s site in Barrington.
“We have a very slow growth model,” Tom Heinen told the Plain Dealer. “We may not have opened many new stores, but all of our stores have been remodeled, expanded or totally rebuilt.”
For example, when Tops Friendly Markets put its 46 Ohio store up for sale in July 2006, Heinen’s considered several sites but ended up taking over just one location.