Food City begins rebranding Chattanooga Bi-Lo stores

Food City begins rebranding Chattanooga Bi-Lo stores

September 1st, 2015 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Food City's tentative rollout schedule that originally ran with this story has changed, and so has been removed from this story pending the release of an updated schedule.

The Food City logo now fronts the former Bi-Lo store in Red Bank.

The Food City logo now fronts the former...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Food City Senior Vice President Jesse Lewis talks about new lower prices on many items Monday afternoon as employees work to ready the former Bi-Lo store in Red Bank.

Food City Senior Vice President Jesse Lewis talks...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Food City floral manager Kim Tooley works her display of Kalanchoe plants at the former Bi-Lo store in Red Bank.

Food City floral manager Kim Tooley works her...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Tri City Tile, of Bristol, employee's Bill Doss, right, and Jeff Doss, lower right, work to install new seafood casing inside Food City Monday in Red Bank.

Tri City Tile, of Bristol, employee's Bill Doss,...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Phase one of Food City's takeover of 29 Bi-Lo supermarkets has started in the Chattanooga area as the Abingdon, Va.-based grocer adds employees, cuts prices and looks to renovate stores.

Food City plans to hire 40 more employees at its Red Bank supermarket, which is one of the first of the former Bi-Lo stores undergoing rebranding, officials said Monday.

"We hired the vast majority of the Bi-Lo associates," said John Jones, Food City's executive vice president, about the 2,000-employee workforce in the area stores. "But our business model is probably more service driven. With service you need people. We're going to put the service in here that customers expect from a Food City store."

Also, as Food City puts in a strategy of product price cuts, that will drive more volume in its stores, he said.

"As you do more business, you need more people," Jones said.

Food City announced plans to buy the 29 Bi-Lo stores in late July.

The grocer, which is owned by K-VA-T Food Stores Inc., plans to reopen the Red Bank and Harrison stores on Wednesday as Food City units. The Hixson Pike store in Rivermont and another at 8530 Hixson Pike will debut a day later.

The other stores are expected to close for a few days over the next month or so on a staggered basis and then reopen as Food City units.

Jones said that plans already are in place to renovate the St. Elmo and Harrison stores.

"There will be numerous [renovations]," he said. "The first two major remodels will be those two."

The company said earlier it plans to invest over $40 million in capital improvements in the stores the first year.

Jesse Lewis, Food City's senior vice president and chief operations officer, said workers are building a service meat and seafood area at the Red Bank location, for example.

Employees are working around the clock since Sunday afternoon to prep the store, which includes bringing in fresh products for the Wednesday reopening, he said.

"All of the perishable product Bi-Lo had is gone," Lewis said.

In addition, the company is bringing in its private Food City brands, including offering so-called legacy products such as Lay's meats, Touchdown Franks and Kay's Ice Cream, he said.

Shoppers will see "major price reductions" in goods, Lewis said, in addition to weekly advertised specials.

Oscar Mayer bacon will drop by $3.50 a pound, a jug of Tide detergent will fall by $4 and a can of Maxwell House coffee will be trimmed by $3.50, he said.

"There's hundreds and hundreds of those across the store," Lewis said.

Additionally, Lewis cited Food City's produce section.

"Bi-Lo did some good stuff with some of the grown produce. We're pretty fanatical on it," he said.

The Food City official said the company works with farmers, giving them projections about what it can sell and they can grow, Lewis said.

"We actually know our farmers," he said.

Jones said the company is talking with its landlords about locations for fuel centers.

"We're aggressively looking to put gas stations up as soon as possible," he said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.


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