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    Kroger Will Convert Five Fred Meyers to New Banner in June

    CINCINNATI - Kroger announced plans to introduce Smith's Marketplace, a new store format offering full-service grocery, pharmacy and a full selection of general merchandise, in Utah in June.

    CINCINNATI - Kroger announced plans to introduce Smith's Marketplace, a new store format offering full-service grocery, pharmacy and a full selection of general merchandise, in Utah in June.

    Under the plan, five Fred Meyer stores in the Wasatch Front region of Utah will be converted to the new Smith's Marketplace banner. The stores, which average 154,000 square feet, will undergo remodelings at a total estimated cost of more than $7.5 million to accommodate expanded grocery, produce, frozen food, and dairy departments, as well as new bakery and service delis.

    Kroger said it will close two Fred Meyer stores in Granger and Ogden, Utah on April 17, while Fred Meyer in Sandy, Utah will continue to operate until a suitable tenant is identified.

    "We believe this conversion to Smith's Marketplace stores will enhance Smith's market position in Utah," said Jim Hallsey, Smith's president. "This is a win-win situation for our customers and employees. Our customers will be able to shop for groceries, home, apparel, electronics, and other merchandise in a convenient neighborhood store from a retailer they already know and trust."

    "We're proud of the outstanding job our employees have done to create a great shopping experience for Utah customers who appreciate the convenience of finding food and a wide selection of general merchandise under one roof," said Darrell Webb, Fred Meyer Stores' president. "Even though the banner will change to Smith's Marketplace, customers will find the same service, selection and quality that they have come to appreciate at Fred Meyer."

    Smith's and Fred Meyer intend to retain as many current employees as possible with positions at the Smith's Marketplace locations and the Smith's Food & Drug Stores. Fred Meyer will provide severance benefits, based on years of service, to those employees not retained.

    The company said the conversion builds on Kroger's success with Fry's Marketplace stores in Arizona. Fry's, which is also a division of Kroger, converted 17 former Fred Meyer Marketplace stores to the Fry's banner in 2000.

    Smith's currently operates 126 stores in Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Idaho, Arizona and Wyoming. Fred Meyer currently operates 134 stores in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska and Utah.

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