Spartan Steps Up Expansion Plans

Spartan Stores Inc., a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based grocery distributor that also operates 84 supermarkets in Michigan and Ohio, is looking to add another 10 stores to its portfolio in the next three years, according to the Grand Rapids Press.

The construction includes a previously announced flagship store in Grand Rapids, though a timeline hasn’t been set, Dennis Eidson, Spartan’s president, told the newspaper.

Eidson, who takes over as the company’s CEO in two months, recently unveiled the company’s plans at its annual shareholders meeting.

"Dennis and I have been on this journey for our five years. It’s time for me to hand the reins of the CEO’s responsibilities to him. I’m very proud to do it," said Craig Sturken, Spartan Stores current CEO and board chairman.

The two will continue to work as a team, Eidson said.

"We have kind of been connected at the hip for about 11 years," Eidson said. "I complete the sentences he starts and vice versa. We have the same strategic vision."

Sturken said after the meeting Spartan Stores is on track to reach $3.2 billion in annual sales by 2010, a prediction he made in 2006.

In the next three years, the company plans to add 15 fuel centers, which are seen as a draw for its stores. About 30% of customers who buy fuel are taking advantage of cross promotions between the store and its gas stations. New fuel centers bump up a store’s sales by about 5%, Eidson said.

In the past fiscal year, the company completed five major remodels, a replacement store and its first new store in five years. Return on capital investment made in the past three fiscal years has yielded about 10%, the Grand Rapids Press reported.

In 2008, Spartan Stores invested $40.1 million, including $8.4 million in its retail operation and $31.7 million in distribution side.

The company is the country’s 10th-largest grocery distributor, supplying more than 400 independent grocery stores in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. Its Michigan and Ohio operations include Family Fare Supermarkets, Glen’s Markets, D&W Fresh Markets and Felpausch Food Centers.

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