Mauldin-based grocer Bi-Lo said it is winding down for the year a four-store renovation program in the Columbia area, cutting the ribbon this month on a store makeover in West Columbia.
In July, Bi-Lo announced it had completed renovations of stores in Cayce and Columbia. A remodel at the Devine Street store in Columbia is expected to be completed in September, the company said.
Bi-Lo is moving ahead with its five-year plan to update stores and be a more competitive grocer, 15 months after the Mauldin-based company completed a financial restructuring and emerged from protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Fred Shropshier, Bi-Lo’s regional vice president, during a stop in the Upstate on Monday told The Greenville News “we are well on our way” with the company’s capital-project plan, with more than 20 remodeling projects to be completed by the end of the year.
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He said more stores will be remodeled next year. That list still is being developed, he said. The company said it plans future renovations in other Midlands’ stores, but no more this year.
Bi-Lo has 207 stores in four Southern states, including 15 in the Columbia area. It is a major employer in the Palmetto State, with more than 11,000 workers.
Store officials said the renovated Columbia store on Augusta Road and Cayce store on Charleston Highway added a total of 30 new jobs, and the West Columbia store on Emanuel Church Road will bring 25 additional jobs.
Company officials would not say how much the store renovations cost, but called them “pretty extensive.”
The company is updating store appearances, increasing the variety of the products it offers and adding employees, Bi-Lo officials said.
Each renovated store will feature warmer color schemes, a free Wi-Fi café and upgrades to all departments, including the deli-bakery, produce, meat department and frozen foods, said Sam Blaiss, regional vice president.
Wider front and back aisles have been added for easier maneuverability, Blaiss said, along with new landscaping, an updated store logo and improved parking lots.
Customers will see new wood-grain flooring in certain areas of the stores, such as the wine department, with new tile in other areas and more open entrances.
Merchandise has been shifted, Blaiss said, in order to offer larger selections to shoppers. Linear footage has been increased in the frozen food sections, for example, to add more product and greater variety, Blaiss said, and sales associates will don new uniforms.
The company also is offering a new satisfaction guarantee program that doubles a customer’s money back on any item purchased if the customer is unsatisfied, the company said.
Analysts have said Bi-Lo’s strengths include a favorable position in its key markets, emergence from Chapter 11 last year with an improved capital structure and adequate financial flexibility and a lower cost structure.
Bi-Lo’s challenges, the analysts said, include a highly competitive supermarket industry and an older store base in need of investment.