(UPDATED COVERAGE, 5:30 p.m.) Better quality and wider selections of produce are among the improvements grocery retailer Food Lion revealed in 178 stores May 15 as part of an ongoing plan to upgrade operations.
“All of the changes are based on customer feedback,” said Christy Phillips-Brown, spokeswoman for the Salisbury, N.C.-based chain.
“We now have a double-your-money-back guarantee for all of our fresh produce and we retrained staff on how to handle and display produce so our customers have the freshest and highest quality fruits and vegetables.”
Phillips-Brown said retraining started at the dock where produce is received and went through the unpacking process all the way to how to display different commodities to avoid bruising.
Food Lion increased delivery frequency of fresh produce so stores receive shipments every other day now. Before, store delivery schedules varied, Phillips-Brown said.
“We also lowered the price of produce in our stores,” she said.
Expansion and recommitment to a “Fresh From the Field” initiative is helping improve the chain’s produce offerings, Phillips-Brown said. The initiative helps produce buyers find and work with local and regional growers.
Other aspects of store upgrades include new floor plans that keep aisles clear of cardboard stand-up displays to make it easier for consumers to navigate. Additional staff and redesigned cashier stations speed up checkout.
The 178 stores in the current upgrade collectively created 800 new jobs in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
To mark the launch of the improved stores, Food Lion set re-opening events at the 178 stores.
The company is also donating to local charities, including $5,000 to food banks in Baltimore; Milford, Del.; Fredericksburg, Va.; and Washington, D.C.
The retail chain has been working to improve its stores since 2011 when it upgraded 167 stores. In 2012 another 537 stores got improvements. Phillips-Brown said upgrades are complete at about 80% of the chain’s stores now.
Food Lion LLC is a subsidiary of Brussels-based Delhaize Group. The chain operates about 1,100 supermarkets under the names of Food Lion, Bloom, Bottom Dollar, Harveys and Reid’s.