(Jan. 30) Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Supervalu Inc. told investors its Premium, Fresh and Healthy transformation is right on schedule.

Jeff Noddle, chairman and chief executive officer, told investors at a Jan. 24 meeting in Las Vegas about Supervalu’s plans to remodel 165 more stores in fiscal 2009, which starts this spring. Of those, 140 are from Supervalu’s Albertsons acquisition in 2006.

“That doesn’t mean we’re ignoring our legacy stores,” Noddle said during the meeting, of which the audio is available via Webcast.

Noddle said Supervalu’s remodeling plan calls for 80% of its stores to be new or remodeled within the past seven years. Its legacy stores are at that level, but the Albertsons acquisition stores are at about 68%.

The “Premium, Fresh and Healthy” initiative was introduced in late 2006. It includes enhanced produce departments, service meat and seafood and more take-home meal options.

Supervalu plans to complete 125 store remodels in fiscal 2008.

Noddle said the Premium, Fresh and Healthy initiative — along with the company’s focus research into consumer spending habits — will help strike a balance between Supervalu’s strength as a national retailer and its banners’ regional clout.

“We tried to think about who the best supermarket operators are today, and we think those that are regionally focused and know their customers on a local basis — a Wegman’s, Publix, HEB or even some of our own stores — they are really tailored to the local markets,” he said. “We want a business model that is a balance of those two.”

WILTED SUNFLOWER

Premium, Fresh and Healthy apparently no longer includes the Sunflower Market concept.

Supervalu reportedly plans to shutter its five Sunflower Markets, an organic concept store launched in 2006. The company had said it planned to open as many as 50 stores by 2011.

Spokeswoman Haley Meyer told the Columbus (Ohio)Dispatch the stores are scheduled to close by mid-February.

“Sunflower Market was an innovative approach to the national organics market, and we’ll take the learnings from the format and apply them elsewhere within our organization,” she said in a Jan. 25 article.

Supervalu’s discount banner, Sav-a-Lot, is implementing some fresh strategies to drive growth, said Mike Jackson, Supervalu’s president and chief operating officer, during the Jan. 29 meeting.

Jackson told investors at the meeting that over the past year, Sav-a-Lot has started focusing on fresh produce by moving the section to the front of the store, Jackson said.

“This gives a solid introduction to the store and underscores the value proposition we want our customers to understand,” he said.

Sav-a-Lot also is doing more local produce programs that are more common at stores focused at higher-income shoppers.

“We want to make the department more appealing to local shoppers,” Jackson said.

For example, this year Sav-a-Lot stores worked with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and more than 100 local growers in Michigan to provide locally grown produce at Sav-a-Lot price points.

“This was a great program for our participating Michigan stores and one that we will replicate across other markets,” Jackson said.