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Food Lion completes rebranding of Maryland supermarkets, expands workforce by more than 1,100

Food Lion has completed a yearlong project to remodel its 52 Maryland supermarkets, adding more than 1,100 store employees statewide.

The grocer unveiled $108.2 million worth of upgrades Wednesday, part of a multiyear effort to reposition the “everyday low price” chain in its 10-state market area. The retailer, based in Salisbury, North Carolina, is rebranding itself with its slogan “easy, fresh and affordable.”

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All Maryland stores have been redesigned with new layouts, upgraded decor and lighting, new front-end registers and expanded product assortments that include more organic, gluten-free and local items, and expanded fresh produce and meat departments, the retailer said.

Stores also have added more selection in deli and bakery departments and more prepared meals, grab-and go-choices, and pre-sliced deli meats and cheeses. The remodeling effort has been underway for about a year.

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Competition among food retailers has intensified in recent years, with discounters Aldi and Lidl rapidly expanding in the Baltimore area and mass merchants such as Walmart and Target taking bigger shares of the market.

On Wednesday, Lidl US planned to open its newest Baltimore County location in a former Mars Super Markets location in Timonium.

“Everywhere we operate is incredibly competitive,” Food Lion President Meg Ham said. “We have a combination of national retailers and many strong regional brands, and there’s no difference in Maryland.”

Ham said Food Lion strives to compete not only on price but hopes to fill the niche of “neighborhood grocery store.”

The grocer launched a strategy six years ago “to reintroduce and reposition our brand inside different marketplaces,” starting in North Carolina and South Carolina and ending this month with 112 stores in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, Ham said.

“It’s really a full shift in our assortment inside of our stores and making other elements of the experience much easier,” she said.

About a quarter of its Maryland stores now offer Food Lion to Go, the chain’s curbside pickup option, including at locations in Finksburg, Mount Airy, Pasadena, Rockville and Woodbine. Some stores also offer home delivery.

The company, a division of Ahold Delhaize USA, said it invested a total $212.5 million in the Mid-Atlantic upgrades.

That investment is expected to generate $360 million in economic impact for those five states and boost state and local tax revenues by $40 million, according to an economic impact study by Towson University’s Regional Economic Studies Institute.

In Maryland, the renovated stores are expected to generate nearly $15.4 million in state and local tax revenues over the first year of operations.

Food Lion has added 1,150 employees to its Maryland stores and now employs 5,000 in the state.

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