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Sam Martin, president and CEO of Montvale, N.J.-based A&P, readily admits that the road to opening the sparkling new Superfresh in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties community was hardly a smooth one. And though the location was on the company’s build list for nearly five years, Martin says concerns about the stagnating economy had slowed the corporate growth plan considerably.
It was Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, with his unshakeable idea of a supermarket as an “essential component” of a revitalized Northern Liberties, who championed the project and helped see it through to completion. “His vision convinced me to take another look,” Martin notes.
A key goal of the store, once it was firmly on track to be built, was to be the “store of the neighborhood” for a community that was diverse to begin with, but with a recent influx of affluent urban professionals “adding a whole new layer,” as Martin puts it. Another major piece of the puzzle was joining forces the right developer, Bart Blatstein of Tower Investments Inc.
The results have been highly satisfying for A&P, as the store has been a smash hit “out of the chute,” with highly positive consumer feedback, Martin notes, adding that the location is “a vibrant, fun place to be.”
“We’re really pleased with the current sales performance,” adds Tom O’Boyle, A&P’s EVP of merchandising, marketing and supply & logistics. “There are stores within more dense populations that do a greater amount of volume, but the level of what we think is a relative share percent in the store, we feel really good about.”
As for future stores in underserved areas, the company, currently focused on restructuring, is keeping its options open. “We’re going to continue to look for opportunities across all banners and all our locations,” says O’Boyle. “Philadelphia’s a core market for us. We’re going to continue to look at areas [on a location-by-location basis] where customers look for us to be able to fulfill their needs.”
When A&P does venture into another such area, however, Martin believes that the Northern Liberties project will stand as “a model of how that can work.”
To read the November 2011 Store of the Month article, "Taking Liberties" by PG Managing Editor Bridget Goldschmidt, click here.