Food Lion LLC is an American grocery store company headquartered in Salisbury, North Carolina that operates approximately 1,300 supermarkets in 11 Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states under the Food Lion, Harveys Supermarket, Bloom, Bottom Dollar Food, and Reid's banners. With approximately 73,000 associates, Food Lion LLC is the largest subsidiary of Delhaize Group. Delhaize Group is a food retailer headquartered in Belgium which operates in 7 countries. Delhaize Group was founded in Belgium in 1867. The principal activity of Delhaize Group is the operation of food supermarkets in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia. Supermarket News ranked Delhaize America No. 10 in the 2007 "Top 75 North American Food Retailers" based on 2006 fiscal year estimated sales of $17.3 billion.
Food Lion is the namesake concept for Food Lion LLC and is centered around building a neighborly and convenient supermarket for its customers featuring "extra low prices" on name brand and private label merchandise. Sales are promoted through the use of an MVP Loyalty Card. While at one time Food Lion's concept generally lacked the "bells and whistles" of its competitors, the company has been adding fresh seafood, deli and bakery departments, cheese, pharmacies and butcher departments over the last few years.
As of May 2007, there were 53 Bloom stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia. However, with the Food Lion "market renewal" in progress, this number is increasing as various Food Lion stores are converted to Bloom as needed.
Bottom Dollar Food is Food Lion's discount grocery model that focuses on offering a limited-selection of both national brands and private label products at low prices in an "upbeat" shopping environment. These stores have no bakeries or delis and more items are prepackaged. Customers buy the bags used to sack their own groceries at Bottom Dollar Food. Stores also use alternative display and stocking techniques such as cut cases on shelves, using pallets and dump bins to reduce costs. Food Lion opened the first Bottom Dollar Food model in High Point, North Carolina on September 21, 2005.
As of October 2007, Bottom Dollar Food had 28 stores in North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia. However, with the Food Lion "market renewal" in progress, this number is increasing as various Food Lion stores are converted to Bottom Dollar Food as needed.
Reid's apparently has no Web presence and advertises mainly via newspaper ads with occasional television ads when a new store "opens". However, you can view the Reid's weekly ad on the website of The People-Sentinel, a newspaper serving Barnwell County, South Carolina. Reid's also runs sale advertisements on several radio stations in South Carolina, featuring the chain's namesake Reid Boylston reading the week's specials over the phone and closing with an exuberant recitation of the chain's slogan, "We can save you money!" Fans of the ads will note their rather quaint quality which are reminiscent of grocery store ads of the 1970's.
Since 2003, Food Lion has been active in "market renewals" in which every year Food Lion picks certain cities in their operating area where they remodel stores and update the product offerings. In 2006, Food Lion advanced their market renewals program by using in-depth demographic and geographic data to figure out whether certain stores should be branded as Food Lion, Bloom, or Bottom Dollar. Should the data support that an already existing Food Lion is adequate for a certain community, the location will simply be remodeled. Should the data support otherwise, the Food Lion store will be remodeled and re-branded as either Bloom or Bottom Dollar.
In the early 1990s, the stores appeared in more new markets such as Delaware and southern Pennsylvania; Orlando, Florida; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Louisiana; the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and Houston. During this time, the chain was the fastest-growing supermarket company in the US as it opened over 100 new stores each year. In November 1992, a critical PrimeTime Live report which showed unsanitary handling of meat and seafood hurt the chain as it attempted to enter new markets in the Northeast and Southwest. (See ABC PrimeTime Live Section below)
According to some industry sources, the new stores in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma were already below sales projections. The small, lackluster Food Lion stores were beginning to compete with national retail leaders, such as Albertsons, Kroger, Tom Thumb and Jewel-Osco--all of which were already well-respected in the Southwest, and who operated larger stores with more features. But the effects of the devastating ABC report could not be denied and sales and revenue plummeted. In the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, there were widespread reports of stores sending half of their staff home early due to lack of business; and other stores with "virtually zero meat sales." In the fiscal quarter that included the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays of 1992, Delhaize America reported companywide same-store sales declines of 9.5%. As a result, the Lion was forced to greatly scale back its expansion plans in Texas and Oklahoma, as well as delay its planned entry into new markets in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois.
In 1993 Food Lion agreed to pay $16.2 million to settle claims it violated federal laws regulating unpaid overtime, minimum wage and child labor, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In the agreement, which at the time was the largest settlement ever from a private employer accused of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the grocery chain agreed to ensure that all employees will be well informed about their rights. Additionally, the Labor Department said Food Lion's top management has provided assurances that no retaliatory action will be taken against employees who may file complaints about unpaid overtime or other potential FLSA violations.
On January 7, 1994, Delhaize announced the first major round of store closings in what would become a yearly event. The stores to be closed included 47 of its brand new stores in Texas and Oklahoma as well as stores in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky; North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Throughout the mid-to-late 1990s, the company cancelled leases for new stores and closed scores of its newly-built outlets in recently established markets such as Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and Oklahoma City, and by the close of the 1990s, it had had enough. Citing double-digit same-store sales declines for the quarter ending in September 1997, Delhaize announced that it was cancelling its Midwest expansion, exiting all markets in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, and closing its 6 year-old distribution center in Roanoke, Texas. A bruised and battered Food Lion was forced to recede back to the East Coast, where it faced increasing competition from competitors with larger stores, better customer-service and more variety and amenities; these included regional winners such as Lowes Foods, Harris Teeter and Publix, newcomers like specialty-retailer Whole Foods Market, the ever-expanding national chains such as Kroger, and the omnipresent Wal-Mart Supercenters.
"Extra Low Prices" - 1990s-Early 2000s
"Good Neighbors, Great Prices" - Early 2000s-present
In the 1990s, Food Lion gained a degree of notoriety when it was the subject of an ABC News investigation. ABC had received a tip about unsanitary practices at Food Lion. Two ABC reporters had posed as Food Lion employees, and witnessed the unsanitary practices at Food Lion. Much of what they had seen was videotaped with cameras hidden in wigs that they were wearing. The footage was then featured in a segment on the news magazine Primetime Live, in which Food Lion's unsanitary practices, which included bleaching discolored, expired pork with Clorox and repackaging expired meats with new expiration dates, were exposed.
The company responded by suing ABC for fraud, claiming that the ABC employees misrepresented themselves; for trespassing, because the ABC employees came on to Food Lion property without permission; and for breach of loyalty, the ABC employees videotaped non-public areas of the store and revealed internal company information. During the court battles between Food Lion and ABC, over 40 hours of unused footage were released that helped Food Lion's case. In the unused footage, two undercover producers are seen trying to encourage violations of company policy, however, employees resisted and correctly followed sanitary practices.
Food Lion was awarded USD$5.5 million by a jury in 1997. The award was later reduced by a judge to $316,000. The verdict was then overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. According to the court, even though ABC was wrong to do what they had done, they felt that Food Lion was unable to show that they had been directly injured by ABC's actions - essentially that it was the actions of Food Lion that caused the damages, not the publication of those actions.
An indirect result was that Food Lion ended up exiting the Houston, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex markets, which it had recently entered. The Dallas/Fort Worth market is highly competitive, and the stores were already being criticized for being too small and lacking the amenities desired by the local shoppers—for example, Food Lion did not include pharmacies in its stores.