(Oct. 30) One Eastern grocery retailer is gearing up to face ever-increasing competition. Landover, Md.-based Giant Food LLC is expected to begin a three-year remodel in January.

Royal Ahold NV, Zaandam, Netherlands — the parent company of Giant, Stop & Shop and, until recently, Tops Markets LLC — announced its Project Refresh on Oct. 25.

Replacement of and renovations to 100 of its Giant locations are expected to begin during the first quarter of 2008, said Jamie Miller, Giant Foods’ public affairs manager. The project is expected to be Ahold’s largest investment in the company since acquiring it nine years ago.

“For years, Giant and Safeway were the primary supermarkets in our region,” Miller said. “… Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, Wegman’s, Food Lion and Trader Joe’s have pushed into the region.”

Giant operates 185 stores in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Washington, D.C. Although it has opened eight new stores in the past 18 months, its market share has fallen in recent years, Miller said.

“This project is being done as a complement to our value improvement program,” Miller said.

The value improvement program initiates price cuts in every department of the store, one department at a time, she said. Giant is about halfway through the process, having already lowered prices in produce, dairy, frozen foods, coffee products, snack foods, paper products, cleaning supplies, baby products, pet products, cereal and juice and water.

Miller said neither the product selection nor the equipment in the produce sections will be changing.

“It will primarily be a new, fresher look … more lighting, different displays, a lot of new signage, but no new equipment,” Miller said. “We’re not making different room; we’re really just making better room.”

The remodel focuses around the supply chain process. Miller said the goal is to have quicker turnaround from shipper to store, which will allow Giant to have better control of its inventory.

Giant was honored at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2007 by supporters of Produce for Kids for its contributions to the charitable organization.