Friday, April 25, 2014

Teeter tees up tender cuts

Harris Teeter is rolling out a new class of "Certified Very Tender" beef for its patrons, and its the first retailer to use a new government certification for tender cuts.

The US Department of Agriculture has been developing new scientific standards for tenderness for years. The government's marketing department has been working with major meatpackers. The reason? They say that cuts of beef that aren't rated as highly as Prime can be just as tender and delicious (and hence, just as worthy of consumers' dollars).

"The Company believes that the USDA Certified Very Tender program will serve as a useful tool for consumers for whom tenderness is a necessary contributor to their beef purchase," said Harris Teeter, in a news release about the program.

The new tenderness designation will apply to Angus Reserve ribeye, striploin, shortloin, tenderloin and top blade cuts of beef. Harris Teeter's supplier for Angus Reserve is Cargill Meat Solutions.

More interesting perhaps than the certification itself is how it came to be. This slideshow from the USDA details the 12 year history behind the certification. It began with a request from the industry for the government to develop a "Tenderness Marketing Claim Standard." The first proposed rule was circulated in Dec. 2002.

"Multi-dynamic sub-committees were formed to focus on tenderness," the USDA said. Eventually, there was a "Tenderness Forum" (which probably sounds more emotional than it was) held in 2008 at the Reciprocal Meats Conference at the University of Florida.

The scientific data behind the tenderness standards is fairly involved. There's a "minimum tenderness threshold value," established by testing the shear force required to cut the meat (shear force is, in my highly unscientific definition, when two forces are pushing one part of a body in one direction and another part in another direction). If you'd like to see a detailed slideshow of a procedure for measuring this, click here.

So, there you have it: The latest in tenderness certification technology.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

New French eatery open now at Charlotte Douglas

Brioche Dorée, a Parisian-style café, is now open on Concourse E at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The restaurant is run by Ewing Dunn, a subtenant of HMS Host, the contractor that runs Charlotte Douglas' food concessions. Ewing Dunn also operates Cinnabon, Mrs. Fields, Yovana and Zia at the airport.

Sandy Dunn, president and general manager, said Brioche will offer healthy food options, as well as coffee, espresso, quiches and croissant breakfast sandwiches. "It's a fresher, healthier option than some of the meals people on the go are used to when at the airport," she said. "Everything is made in the cafe."

Judy Ewing-Lonetti, Dunn's business partner and CEO of the company, said the airport has been a good place to do business.

"We're directly connected to commuters from all over the world," she said.

There are more than 600 Brioche Dorée locations, mostly in Europe and Asia. The brand is increasing its number of stores with a franchising and licensing push, and plans to grow the number of stores in North American airports.

"Brioche Dorée is excited to explore new expansion opportunities as we bring our fresh bakery experience to more guests across North America,” said company president Jeff Drake.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tropical Smoothie Cafe looks to grow in Charlotte

Following the opening of its first local franchise last year in the Metropolitan shopping center, Tropical Smoothie Café said it's looking to add 15 more stores in Charlotte.

Tropical Smoothie Café said it is seeking franchisees to open more of its restaurants in and around Charlotte, as well as locations in Asheville and Hickory.

"Demand for healthier, convenient food is too high here and our restaurants in neighboring markets are too strong for us not to have a larger footprint in Charlotte," said chief executive Mike Rotondo, in a statement.

The number of projected stores for the Charlotte region is similar to Tropical Smoothie Café's announced expansion plans in other markets. The company said last year it wants to open 15 restaurants in Alabama, 20 in Houston and 10 in Raleigh.

Tropical Smoothie Café operates 365 stores, and plans to open more than 50 new locations nationwide this year.

The current Charlotte location is owned by former Panthers player Everette Brown.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

H.H. Gregg headed to Windsor Square Shopping Center

Electronics and home appliance retailer H.H. Gregg plans to open a store in Matthews' Windsor Square Shopping Center.

The store has signed a 10-year lease for about 23,000 square feet, Windsor Square owner Sterling Organization said.

The new store is scheduled to open in September, on the south side of the shopping center next to Petsmart. The shopping center also counts JC Penney, Ross Dress for Less, Rue 21 and DSW Shoes among its tenants.

Jeff McElhinny, a broker with Atlantic Retail Properties, negotiated the deal for H.H. Gregg.

Windsor Square is what's known as a "power center," or an unenclosed retail center with several big box stores and assortment of smaller retailers. The shopping center consists of more than 660,000 square feet.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Want to name Food Lion's soda?

If you've ever craved fame and fortune but been unsure how to make your mark, now is the time: You have the opportunity to name Food Lion's store-brand sodas.

From now through Sunday, April 27, Food Lion is offering customers the chance to submit their ideas online here. The sodas eligible for new names include Food Lion's root beer, ginger ale, orange soda, grape soda and fruit punch.

The five winners will get $500 and a year of free Food Lion-brand soda. Ten runners-up will get $100 gift cards to Food Lion, but only a three-month supply of Food Lion-brand soda.

Food Lion will decide the winning names by letting people vote online after it posts the finalists on its Facebook page, starting May 7.

The company, a subsidiary of Belgian grocer Delhaize, said each customer is allowed entry per soda per day.

Delhaize has 1,514 stores in the U.S., the majority of them Food Lions. The company also operates Hannaford and Bottom Dollar, and had $17.1 billion worth of sales in 2013. Delhaize is selling its 154 Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid's stores in a $267 million deal that's expected to close in the first half of 2014.

Private brands - such as the Food Lion sodas - make up an increasingly important part of many grocers' portfolios. In Belgium, private brands account for 57 percent of Delhaize's sales. While prices are lower on private labels, retailers make a higher profit margin from them.

In a conference call earlier this month, Delhaize's new CEO Frans Muller said growing private label sales at Food Lion's stores would be a top priority for the company this year.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Whole Foods holding local producer fair in Lake Norman

Makers of local Whole Foods-type products, listen up: The grocer is inviting local producers to bring their wares for a shot to get on the shelves at the new Lake Norman store.

The new Whole Foods is set to open in the fall at the Northcross Commons Shopping Center on Sam Furr Road. The retailer is interested in fruits, vegetables or food products manufactured in the Lake Norman area.

The local producer meetings with Whole Foods will be May 30. Interested producers have to submit an application (which you do online here). Whole Foods will then contact those who make the first cut and set up meetings.

You have until May 12 to apply. Here's what Whole Foods says they're especially interested in: "Coffee, Beer, Wine, Aged cheeses, Hard Cider, Chocolate, Organic soy yogurt, ethnic foods."

The company has a long list of requirements for the products. They range from "A business license and all required regulatory permits" to "All spices are non-irradiated."

But lest you think you don't have a shot, take heart: Local producer Olive Stewart got her products on the shelves of the SouthPark Whole Foods. Read about how she did it here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New stores for Charlotte Premium Outlets

Charlotte Premium Outlets announced 18 new tenants this week, as the Steele Creek mall prepares for its July 31 opening.

The list of additional tenants includes Kate Spade New York, Zumiez and Crocs. A complete list is below. They'll join previously announced tenants at the almost 400,000-square-foot shopping mall, which will be anchored by Saks 5th Avenue Off Fifth.

Here's the full list of newly-announced stores:

  • Kate Spade New York
  • Coach
  • J. Crew
  • Banana Republic Factory Store
  • Carter's
  • Gap Factory Store
  • Great American Cookie
  • HanesBrands
  • Lucky Brand
  • The Luggage Factory
  • Osh Kosh B'Gosh
  • Puma
  • Steve Madden
  • Zumiez
  • Bass
  • Sunglass Warehouse
  • Crocs
  • Quicksilver

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Charlotte Premium Outlets holding job fair May 2

Charlotte Premium Outlets, the city's first outlet mall, plans to hold a job fair May 2 to fill positions at its new stores.

The mall, a joint venture between Tanger Factory Outlet Centers and Simon Property Group, is set to open July 31. The companies predict it will employ 900 people at its 100 stores.

Carter’s, Direct Tools, Fossil, Le Creuset, Seiko and other stores will be at the job fair and looking to find employees.

The job fair will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Sheraton Charlotte Airport.

Check out this previous blog post for a list of stores headed to Charlotte Premium Outlets. Saks Fifth Avenue will be the largest tenant of the new mall, which will total just under 400,000 square feet.

The companies paid $8.7 million to buy the site from a trust fund owned by Sarah Belk Gambrell. They will receive $5.1 million worth of property tax rebates over the next 10 years.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Matthews Publix to open April 23

Publix Super Markets plans to open its newest store in Matthews on April 23, the Florida-based grocer's fifth store in the Charlotte region.

The Matthews store is at McKee Farms Shopping Center, in a former Super BI-LO location. The store will open at 7 a.m. for its first day of business.

The new Publix joins stores in Ballantyne, Rock Hill, Fort Mill and Indian Land. It's the company's second store in North Carolina.

Mecklenburg County building permits show Publix spent more than $2.4 million remodeling the building.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Walmart regains top grocery spot in Charlotte market

Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, is back in the No. 1 spot in the Charlotte region's grocery market, according to data released Tuesday.

Chain Store Guide, which tracks retail sales, reported that Walmart captured 22.4 percent of the Charlotte region's grocery sales, up from 20.4 percent last year. Harris Teeter's share fell from 23.7 to 20.4, and Food Lion's grew from 17.4 to 18.7.

Here's how they stack up. In the following chart, WM = Walmart, HT = Harris Teeter, FL = Food Lion, Sam = Sam's Club, Bi = BI-LO, Cos = Costco, TGT = Target, DG = Dollar General, FD = Family Dollar and TJ's = Trader Joe's.

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Here are some interesting takeaways from the data:

  •  Publix Super Markets, with only two stores near the state border in South Carolina and one store opened in Ballantyne in February, is already up to a 1.3 percent market share. How much more market share will they take when they are up to 15 stores, as they plane to be next year?
  • Given that Walmart also owns Sam's Club, if you combine their sales, you can see that the business from Bentonville owns a huge chunk of the market: 28.7 percent. That means they're about 40 percent bigger than the next-highest competitor, Harris Teeter (28.7 percent market share vs. 20.4 percent).
  • Family Dollar and Dollar General each account for a greater percentage of food sales in the Charlotte market than Trader Joe's - an interesting thought if you spend a lot of time in Trader Joe's, like this blog writer.
  • According to Chain Store Guide's data, Publix has about 29 percent higher sales-per-store in the Charlotte market compared to Harris Teeter. Kroger recently closed its deal to buy Harris Teeter, so we'll have to see if that changes.