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    A&P Unveils Fresh Prototype

    MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P here revealed a new retail prototype in a 49,000-square-foot, newly renovated store in Midland Park, N.J., incorporating what it said is the best features from its U.S. and jettisoned Canadian operations.

    MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P here revealed a new retail prototype in a 49,000-square-foot, newly renovated store in Midland Park, N.J., incorporating what it said is the best features from its U.S. and jettisoned Canadian operations.

    The prototype is part of an overall strategy to convert all A&P stores into either a Fresh Markets format, heavy on prepared, natural, and organic foods, with an accent on exemplary customer service; or a discount Food Basics format. The Midland Park store would fall into the former category.

    According to local press reports, the new prototypes' amenities include:

    --Up to 150 organic produce items, with other organic foods found in additional areas of the store, including the snack, cookie, and chocolate aisles.

    --A deli that exclusively sells Boar's Head cold cuts, and where associates are required to take a 10-week course to learn about the products. Sampling is prominent.

    --A liquor department that offers weekend wine sampling, with aged Gouda available daily for tasting in the neighboring cheese department.

    --A curved, slanted fish department showcase for better interaction with customers.

    Additionally, the financially troubled company has slashed prices on over 3,000 products in an attempt to lure more customers to its stores.

    A&P has been testing the Fresh Markets concept in U.S. stores since 2004, in such locations as Denville and Mahwah, N.J. and Mount Kisco and Jericho, N.Y. Eight additional stores are planned in metro area over the next few months, according to the retailer.

    The future stores will be patterned after the Midland Park prototype, with adjustments for particular markets and demographics. A&P hasn't yet disclosed where these stores will be located. In general, Fresh Markets stores would be in affluent areas, where customers would pay higher prices for the amenities such locations offer, the grocer said.

    A&P didn't give specific sales figures for the Midland Park store, but spokesman Richard DeSanta told the Bergen County Record that first-week sales for the location indicated a "healthy double-digit increase" over pre-conversion levels.

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