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    Big Y to Roll Out Fresh Concept Store in the Fall

    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- As organic and natural foods move increasingly into the mainstream, Big Y here will introduce a new store format this autumn to tap into the trend. The new format, to be called Fresh Acres, is a smaller footprint than other Big Y units, offering fresh, natural, and easy-to-prepare items for busy shoppers, according to company executives.

    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- As organic and natural foods move increasingly into the mainstream, Big Y here will introduce a new store format this autumn to tap into the trend. The new format, to be called Fresh Acres, is a smaller footprint than other Big Y units, offering fresh, natural, and easy-to-prepare items for busy shoppers, according to company executives.

    The inaugural Fresh Acres store, in Springfield, will take up 30,000 square feet at the site of a Big Y store that closed several years ago. Big Y World Class Markets typically run about 65,000 square feet. Subsequent Fresh Acres store are likely to be around 25,000 square feet in size, president and c.o.o. Charles D'Amour told the Springfield, Mass. Republican newspaper.

    The emphasis will be on convenience as well as freshness, D'Amour said. Among the store's features will be fresh pasta -- a first for Big Y -- thin-crust pizzas, and a chef preparing meals in-store. At the front of the store, a large signboard will display daily specials. The store will also feature such innovative food groupings as seafood, meat and deli items at a single fresh food counter.

    Fresh Acres, which is expected by officials to attract young professionals and smaller households, will not carry the Big Y banner, although it could stock some Big Y private label products.

    More Fresh Acres stores could be rolled out in the future, depending on the performance of the first one, chain officials said. Each store would employ about 70 associates.

    The company isn't abandoning its World Class Markets concept, however, according to D'Amour, who noted that the company is still scouting for sites for the World Class concept, particularly in eastern Massachusetts and Fairfield County in Connecticut.

    Company executives noted that the launch of the Fresh Acres store was a response to "evolving" competition in the form of drug stores, gas stations, and big-box retailers that sell food.

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