Hi-Lo pursues four store upgrade
Avia Collinder, Business Reporter
GraceKennedy Limited is upgrading four key stores in its Hi-Lo supermarket chain, a project aimed at lifting sales by a minimum five per cent.
The stores include Manor Park, whose transformation was completed in June, and Barbican, due to be completed by the end of the year.
The other two stores will be tackled in 2015 - one in Kingston and the other in Montego Bay, said GraceKennedy group CEO Don Wehby.
The conglomerate is spending US$8 million ($902m) on the project.
The Manor Park store was reorganised with more room to browse, more lighting and reorganised stock.
Wehby said Monday that features across the stores will not be uniform, but will be dependent "on the customer needs in the geographical location".
All stores however, will "boast better lighting, more modern fixtures and expanded product offerings," he said.
In relation to the Manor Park store, the CEO said GK has "received very positive feedback" from customers. "We have expanded our product range to include a line of organic, gluten free products," he said.
Noting that Hi-Lo was "committed to food retailing and to doing it well," he said the upgrades for the four stores were prompted by feedback from customers. The company expects sales to rise as a result of the investment.
"It has been proven that renovation of a retail establishment typically results in a 5-10 per cent uplift in transactions. We have set our targets based on this international benchmark," Wehby said.
The conglomerate currently operates 14 Hi-Lo stores in seven parishes - Kingston, St James, St Ann, St Catherine, Westmoreland, Manchester and St Mary.
Wehby said an estimate of the supermarket chain's market share was restricted by the fragmentation of the food retail industry into various store formats including chain stores, medium-sized stores and small shops.
Other big operators include the Progressive Group, a consortium of individual grocery store operators, and MegaMart, which is owned by Gassan Azan.
"It is difficult to estimate our market share, but we believe that we are significant players in the geographical locations in which we operate," said the GK CEO.
The Hi-Lo supermarkets appear to be the largest individual network, but are otherwise second to the Progressive Group consortium, whose individual owners operate just over 30 supermarkets between them. MegaMart is a wholesale supermarket with four stores.
For Hi-Lo, Wehby said the strategy to grow market share remained focused "on meeting the needs of our customers by continuously reviewing our assortment and ensuring a great shopping experience delivered by well trained staff".