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    A&P's Farmer Jack to Roll Out Hybrid

    MONTVALE, N.J. -- In a bid to stop the declining fortunes of its Detroit-area banner Farmer Jack, A&P will convert three area stores next month to a format featuring characteristics of both high-end and discount merchandising, according to a local published report. If the stores perform well, all 60 Farmer Jack locations could be change over to the new format by year's end.

    MONTVALE, N.J. -- In a bid to stop the declining fortunes of its Detroit-area banner Farmer Jack, A&P will convert three area stores next month to a format featuring characteristics of both high-end and discount merchandising, according to a local published report. If the stores perform well, all 60 Farmer Jack locations could be change over to the new format by year's end.

    Tom Lenkevich, vice president of operations for Farmer Jack, said Wednesday that the concept would further return the chain to its low-priced roots. He said if the three stores are successful, the other 57 stores could be converted by the end of the year.

    "This is another step in our evolution," Farmer Jack v.p. of operations Tom Lenkevich told the Detroit Free Press, noting that the chain began as a discount operator. He disclosed no further details on the conversions.

    In a conference call last month, A&P president and c.e.o. Eric Claus described the format as "somewhere between our Food Basics and our Fresh stores." Claus acknowledged that A&P had "made a lot of mistakes" with the now-defunct Food Basics stores in Michigan, which closed last year, but cited the area's "economically depressed" character as particularly challenging, especially as "we don't see in the near term any major opportunity for Michigan for things to really turn around from an economy point of view."

    The hybrid format will feature an everyday low prices model with warehouse-style shelving, fewer items, and higher stacking of produce, according to Claus, although he noted in a conference call in May that there would be more to choose from than at the closed Food Basics stores, where people "felt poor shopping there."

    Earlier this year Farmer Jack resurrected the "It's Savings Time" slogan, slashed prices on 4,000 items, and brought back its loyalty card program.

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