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    First Kroger Marketplace to Open This Year

    CINCINNATI - Hoping to strike a counter-blow against Wal-Mart and other supercenters, The Kroger Co. here is launching the Kroger Marketplace one-stop-shopping concept later this year in Columbus, Ohio.

    CINCINNATI - Hoping to strike a counter-blow against Wal-Mart and other supercenters, The Kroger Co. here is launching the Kroger Marketplace one-stop-shopping concept later this year in Columbus, Ohio.

    Kroger Marketplace will be about twice the size of the average Kroger supermarket of 60,000 to 70,000 square feet, making room to sell general merchandise and a bigger assortment of food items, according to the chain.

    Kroger spokesman Gary Rhodes told Progressive Grocer, the concept has been tried under other banners own by Kroger, in the form of Fry's Marketplaces in Arizona and five former Fred Meyer stores in Utah converted to the Smith's Marketplace banner. However, this is the first time the concept will appear under the Kroger name. The aim of the new Marketplace stores, according to Rhodes, is to "build on the success of Fry's" by offering the convenience of a full-service supermarket along with such general merchandise items as bath towels, bed linens, office supplies, and patio furniture. The store opening in Columbus is the first of four planned Kroger Marketplaces, he added.

    Other traditional grocers reportedly experimenting with unconventional concepts include Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons, Inc., which is considering pairing full drug stores -- not just small pharmacy sections -- with its supermarkets, while San Francisco-based Safeway, Inc. is looking at stocking stores with more natural foods, produce, and prepared food.

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