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    Food Lion to Open Bloom, Bottom Dollar Stores in New Markets

    SALISBURY, N.C. -- Regional retailer Food Lion LLC, a unit of the Delhaize Group, yesterday laid out its plans to expand its two experimental banners, Bloom and Bottom Dollar, to new southeast markets. Bloom will be introduced to shoppers in Washington, D.C. area and Upstate South Carolina, while Bottom Dollar will expand to Washington only.

    SALISBURY, N.C. -- Regional retailer Food Lion LLC, a unit of the Delhaize Group, yesterday laid out its plans to expand its two experimental banners, Bloom and Bottom Dollar, to new southeast markets. Bloom will be introduced to shoppers in Washington, D.C. area and Upstate South Carolina, while Bottom Dollar will expand to Washington only.

    So far, the convenience-centric Bloom concept has been limited to five stores in Charlotte, N.C., while the brand-new, discount Bottom Dollar format has debuted in the Triad region of North Carolina. (There are just three Bottom Dollar stores.)

    Food Lion said its remodeling program in Washington, D.C. will include the introduction of both banners to the region. In all, Food Lion will remodel approximately 60 stores in the Washington region before the end of 2006. The geographic spread of these stores includes Fredericksburg, Manassas, Fairfax, Leesburg, Chantilly and Spotsylvania, Va.; and Gaithersburg, Laurel and Frederick Md., and points in between.

    The company is conducting a market analysis to determine which of the three banners -- Food Lion, Bloom, and Bottom Dollar -- will best meet customer needs at specific store locations. Food Lion stores have served Washington-area shoppers since the mid 1980s.

    "These planned store remodels and the introduction of Bloom and Bottom Dollar are indicative of Food Lion LLC's intense focus on serving the diverse range of customers in the Washington region," said c.o.o. Cathy Green. "This effort represents a major commitment by Food Lion to this region and our customers."

    In addition, Food Lion will remodel more than 20 of its stores in the four-state area, including Winchester and Front Royal, Va.; Hagerstown, Md.; and Martinsburg, W.Va., locations. All of these Food Lion stores will offer enhanced fresh departments, including produce, meats, deli and bakery; improved checkout and customer service areas; new signage, graphics and d├ęcor; and enhanced lighting. The remodeling work will allow most stores to offer a greater selection of products, including more natural and organic foods, international items, and expanded beer and wine offerings, Food Lion said. These store remodels will be complete by mid-to-late summer.

    Meanwhile, Food Lion is opening nine stores, including the Food Lion and Bloom banners, in the Upstate region of South Carolina, a brand-new market for the retailer. The new stores, which will be approximately 35,000 square feet and will feature the latest iof the banner interior and exterior design touches, will be open by the end of 2006. The first Upstate Food Lion and Bloom stores could open as soon as early summer, based on current construction schedules, the company said.

    Food Lion stores in other parts of South Carolina have served shoppers since 1978.

    "The Upstate of South Carolina offers a great opportunity for Food Lion LLC and carries out our stated strategy of filling gaps in our existing geographic footprint," noted Green. "We are excited to bring Food Lion and Bloom to the Upstate and look forward to serving customers throughout the region."

    Bloom, which was introduced after two years of consumer research by a cross-functional team from Europe and the United States, was designed to provide a hassle-free shopping experience. It features unique technologies, a variety of quality products, and a commitment to superior customer service. Features include Table Top Circle, which is located at the front of the store. Table Top Circle was created especially for shoppers who need a quick answer to the question: "What's for dinner tonight?"

    Bottom Dollar seeks to redefine the discount grocery model by offering customers both national brands and private label products, in addition to fresh produce and quality meats at low prices in an upbeat shopping environment. More items are prepackaged, and customers bag their own groceries at Bottom Dollar. Stores also use alternative display and stocking techniques that are more efficient and cost effective such as cut cases on shelves, using pallets and dump bins.

    In other news, Food Lion's parent company, Delhaize Group, said yesterday it achieved a 4.2 percent increase in annual sales last year. Net sales and other revenues in 2005 were EUR 18.6 billion ($22.5 billion).

    The company also experienced a 1.1 percent lift in comparable store sales among its U.S. units, which include Food Lion, Harvey's, Kash 'n Karry/Sweetbay, and Hannaford Bros, in 2005.

    "Our main satisfaction for the fiscal year 2005 has been an improving sales trend during the year, with the strongest sales dynamics in the fourth quarter," said Delhaize president and c.e.o. Pierre-Olivier Beckers in a statement. "We have been particularly pleased with the sales upturn at Food Lion, our largest U.S. banner, in the second half of the year. In 2005, Delhaize Group succeeded for the third consecutive year to accelerate its underlying sales momentum."

    In the fourth quarter of 2005, net sales and other revenues of Delhaize Group totaled EUR 5.0 billion ($6.05 billion), a 12.2 percent increase compared to the same period in 2004. Delhaize attributed the gain in part to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar, although at identical exchange rates, net sales and revenues would have still grown by 5.4 percent.

    The company expects to open 54 new supermarkets in the U.S. this year. It will close 19 stores. All Kash n' Karry operations in the markets of Tampa/St. Petersburg will be re-launched under the Sweetbay Supermarket brand, adding 48 supermarkets under the Sweetbay banner.

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