Monday, March 31, 2008

Small Format Grocery Store Retailing: Giant Eagle Express Combines Basic Grocery Shopping With C-Store Ease; Tossing in an Upscale Twist

As part of our on-going feature about the small-format grocery store revolution occurring today in the United States and elsewhere around the globe, we first brought you this piece on March 21: "The Small-Format Grocery Store Revolution in the U.S.: Hy-Vee, Inc. to Open its First Small-Format Grocery Store in Lincoln, Nebraska.

We followed that piece up on March 27 with this feature story, "Small-Format Grocery Retailing Feature: Stretching the Boundaries of Convenience Store Retailing; Some Say Japan's Natural Lawson is Awesome," which talks about the Japanese hybrid convenience store/small-format basic food, specialty and natural products' chain Natural Lawson.

Today, we bring you a feature piece about Giant Eagle Inc.'s Giant Eagle Express hybrid convenience store/small-format upscale grocery market format, which was published in the food and grocery publication Natural~Specialty Foods Memo in October, 2007.

Pennsylvania-based Giant Eagle, Inc. operates 158 corporately-owned and 65 independently-owned and licensed supermarkets, along with 130 conventional convenience and fuel stores in the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland.

In addition to operating conventional supermarkets under the Giant Eagle banner, the grocery chain also operates upscale, specialty foods-oriented supermarkets called Giant Eagle Market District. The retailer's conventional convenience stores are named GetGo (from Giant Eagle).

The grocery and convenience retailer's newest format, Giant Eagle Express, is a combination small-format neighborhood grocery store and convenience store which sells a limited-assortment of basic grocery items, fresh produce and fresh meats, as well as dairy and other perishable products.

The Express format store (soon to be stores), which is open 24 hours a day, also has an in-store cafe which offers premium coffee drinks and fresh-baked goods (as well as free Wi-Fi access), a small in-store deli, and sells gasoline outside near the entrance to the store using a branded GetGo fueling kiosk or station.

The hybrid, small-format upscale convenience and grocery stores offer an extensive selection of fresh, prepared foods in addition to the categories and items mentioned above.

Lastly, the Giant Eagle Express format has an in-store pharmacy (branded as Giant Eagle Pharmacy), which includes a drive-through window for customer convenience.

Giant Eagle Express offers all this in an average store size of 13,000 square feet.

The first store Express store opened in May, 2007 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Two others are currently on the drawing board, with more to come, according to a company spokesperson.

Giant Eagle's strategy with the small-format Express stores is to use them as part of the retailer's overall format mix. That mix is: the conventional Giant Eagle supermarkets, the upscale Market District food stores, the conventional GetGo C-stores and now the Giant Eagle Express markets. In other words, when the company spots a location where they determine an Express store is best suited rather than a supermarket or Get Go conventional convenience store, that's where the company will locate one.

Below are the first two paragraphs (in italics) of Natural~Specialty Foods Memo's feature, "Giant Eagle Beats Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets' to the Punch With its Upscale, Express Format," on the Giant Eagle Express grocery markets. After the opening paragraphs, there's a link to the full story.

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market grocery stores have been all over the media in the past few months, including here at Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM). Far less attention and coverage (virtually none really) has been given to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Giant Eagle, Inc.'s new Giant Eagle Express store format and its first (and currently only) store which opened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in May of this year.

The Giant Eagle Express stores are a hybrid, upscale neighborhood grocery and convenience store. Sound familiar? The Pittsburgh store which opened in May is about 13,000 square-feet and features a large, fresh prepared foods selection, basic and specialty groceries, fresh meats, fresh produce and in-store service deli and bakery departments featuring upscale offerings.

To read the full feature article,"Giant Eagle Beats Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets to the Punch With it's Upscale, Express Format," click here.

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