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    Details of Spartan/D&W Deal Take Shape

    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- With its $45 million acquisition of retailer D&W Food Centers set to be complete later this month, Spartan Stores here is already wielding the pruning shears, with closings of four of D&W's 16 stores imminent within a few weeks.

    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- With its $45 million acquisition of retailer D&W Food Centers set to be complete later this month, Spartan Stores here is already wielding the pruning shears, with closings of four of D&W's 16 stores imminent within a few weeks.

    In a statement, Doug Blease, president and c.e.o. of D&W Food Centers, said, "These closings, while difficult, come as a result of extensive market research and best serve the overall market strategy" for the new partnership between D&W and Spartan Stores.

    The D&W stores set to be shuttered are: the Northtown D&W on Plainfield Avenue in Grand Rapids; the Norton Shores D&W on Seminole Road in Muskegon; the Walker D&W on Remembrance Road; and the Zeeland D&W on West Main Ave. Company executives told the management teams of the affected stores that employees would be considered for positions at other D&W locations.

    Spartan Stores Inc. also said it intends to change the name and upgrade six other D&W locations in the next few weeks, as part of an effort to meld D&W into its network of Family Fare groceries. It added that 10 of the other stores would be called D&W Fresh Markets.

    According to published reports, company officials said they have decided to differentiate some products and features under the two grocery store names, based on research and customer comments. And though they could have opted to rename all 16 stores Family Fare, the market equity established by the family-owned D&W is too important to discard, they said.

    "We will not discard the D&W name, and that is cast in stone," said Craig Sturken, Spartan's c.e.o. "It has tremendous equity in this market, and it will always be here. We feel very strongly about that."

    With the addition of the 16 D&W stores, Spartan will own and operate 36 retail units in west Michigan. It also owns 34 Glen's Markets in lower northern Michigan.

    "We are committed to making improvements in all of the D&W stores, and to be sure every store under the D&W banner is the same," Sturken said, adding that the six stores being changed to Family Fare "just don't have the depth and breadth to live up to that banner, but clearly what we're doing will enhance and improve those stores."

    Customers can expect to start seeing significant changes at all D&W stores, including immediate improvements such as new checkout lanes, cash registers, weight scales and other equipment, Sturken said. He added that D&W Fresh Markets will continue with a grocery boutique approach and feature Starbucks coffee shops, specialty foods, and extensive seafood, deli, and wine departments. No decision has been made on the fate of D&W's Fresh Thyme catering business, Sturken said.

    Spartan's private-label brands will be intertwined with D&W's popular brands, such as President's Choice products, LaBrea fresh breads and Boars Head deli items. Prairie Stone Pharmacies also will remain in the 16 stores where they now operate. Spartan will consider adding gas stations to some existing D&W locations as well.

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