Company News

New Store: Jewel Express

Prototype focuses on foodservice, private label and connection to main store
NAPERVILLE, Ill. -- The latest Express convenience store prototype from Supervalu puts a stronger accent on upscale design, foodservice and private-label products carried over from the main grocery store. The first store with this designa Jewel Express in Naperville, Ill.opened Dec. 14.

"This is a 1,900-square-foot convenience store with an attached 500-square-foot car wash," Mark Schumacher, corporate director of fuel management and convenience operations for Supervalu, Eden Prairie, Minn., told CSP Daily News in an exclusive interview at the store, which includes [image-nocss] a Redbox video rental kiosk outside.

With a brick fa aade, custom cabinetry and a now-standard automatic sliding door, the store is an inviting presence from busy Route 59 through Naperville.

"We've got a focus on 'fresh' with the fresh [foods] case as you first walk in, a big coffee presence, a big cold dispensed-beverage presencebigger than we have at a lot of our storesand then the expanded roller-grill and hot-food program," Schumacher said. "The radius corners along the back wall highlight the cooler doors."

Twelve to 15 cooler doors are now standard for Supervalu, which currently has 132 fuel centers in outlots near its various grocery store brands, including Albertsons, Jewel and Shop 'n Save, among others.

On top of a larger roller-grill presence, fresh salads and sandwiches are being brought over from the deli and fresh-made-daily doughnuts, cinnamon rolls and bagels from the bakery in the main store in an effort to drive more foodservice.

"We're bringing product across from the deli," Schumacher said. "This is new so we need to see what the traffic is, but our ultimate goal is to use that as a commissary to bring product out here."

Not every attempt at synergy with the larger grocery stores has been a success, though, he admitted. "We tried home-cooked meals and it wasn't all that successful. It was another avenue for customers to maybe see that package of meatloaf and mashed potatoes that you could take and heat at home, rather than going into the main store, and it just wasn't working for us."

The larger fountain area includes a new 16-head Manitowoc machine offering flavor and energy shots, as well as both crushed and cubed ice. The new prototype also includes six heads of frozen carbonated beverages for the first time, and an expanded coffee area branded with PapaNicholas Coffee, based in Batavia, Ill. This is the first Express site to offer iced coffee.

In the grocery aisles, the Jewel Express, which pipes in music and announcements from the main grocery store, also includes more private-label products, from Home Life general merchandise to Chill packaged carbonated soft drinks.

"We're doing motor oil, windshield solvent, candy and some chips," Schumacher said. "In the grocery set, were bringing in stuff that we'll make a little bit better margin onJewel paper plates, paper towels and toilet tissueto extend from that brand recognition that the people have from the main store."

Still with all the upgrades insides, Schumacher said it's the gasoline offerin this case, with 12 fueling positions and B-11 biodiesel for the first timethat keeps this Express concept moving.

"The sales ratio between fuel and convenience is about 85/15," he said. "We get most of our sales from the fuel, and that's where the traffic is. If you look at the transaction counts, it's double the number of transactions outside than it is inside. We get a better opportunity to bring customers there that may become our main store (the grocery store) customers."

As for the future, Schumacher is hesitant to offer too many details of Supervalu's strategy, but he does have a personal goal.

"I hope we'll build a couple more" Express sites in 2010, he said. "We would certainly like to get back on the growth curve that we once were on with Albertsons. This is the first one in the Jewel market that we've built since 2005."

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