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    Genuardi's Launches Ads to Regain Shoppers

    PHILADELPHIA - Responding to customer criticism and a decline in its market share, regional chain Genuardi's has launched an advertising campaign to apologize for changes made in its stores after Safeway Inc. acquired the company 21 months ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

    PHILADELPHIA - Responding to customer criticism and a decline in its market share, regional chain Genuardi's has launched an advertising campaign to apologize for changes made in its stores after Safeway Inc. acquired the company 21 months ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

    The timing of the campaign follows a series of radio ads that Local 1776 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union ran during high-traffic holidays in the Philadelphia area earlier this year. Those ads reminded consumers of the changes at Genuardi's and also targeted Genuardi's non-union labor force. Progressive Grocer discussed the union's campaign in a Special Report on Labor published in the Oct. 1, 2002 issue of the magazine.

    Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway has been steadily criticized by once-loyal Genuardi's customers for changing the layout of Genuardi's 44 stores, replacing many familiar products with Safeway brands, and being unresponsive when shoppers complained about product quality or being unable to find what they wanted.

    The advertising promises that, from now on, Genuardi's will feature better cuts of beef, fresher produce, and a better selection of natural, organic and gourmet foods.

    "Despite our best intentions, not all of the changes we've made recently have gone smoothly, and we're sorry if your Genuardi's experience was affected," a newspaper and online version of the ad says. "But now, with so many good things happening at your Genuardi's, we'd like to invite you back."

    The ads are scheduled to run on radio and television and in printed circulars the rest of the year.

    "We wanted customers to know we made some changes, and some were not received in a very positive way," Genuardi's spokeswoman Maryanne Crager told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We want them to know we're reacting to what they've been saying."

    The ads say that among the changes customers should notice:

    -- Stores have resumed selling "USDA choice" beef, but at prices "about the same as other stores charge for the lower-quality USDA select grade." Safeway had changed the grade sold in Genuardi's stores from choice to select soon after the takeover.

    -- Produce is being delivered fresh daily to stores.

    -- Some products that had been removed from shelves have returned, and if customers don't see what they want, they can request that the products be stocked.

    -- Genuardi's will refund 200 percent of the purchase price of any of its Safeway Select-brand products if a customer does not like them. Most Genuardi's store brands have been replaced with Safeway Select products.

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