Grocer Ahold USA Joins in Small-Format Trend

ALLSTON, Mass. — Ahold USA, operator of such supermarket brands as Stop & Shop, Giant Food Stores and Martin’s Food Markets, is the latest retailer to join the shift to smaller formats.

On Friday, Sept. 18, the company will take the wraps off its first-ever bfresh market. Touting fresh foods, smart value and local convenience, the 10,000-square-foot store in Allston is the first such concept from Ahold USA's Fresh Formats subsidiary, which was established in 2014 to explore and develop new growth opportunities for its store formats.

Describing bfresh as "a test model that’s a complete departure from traditional brick-and-mortar grocery stores," company officials said the small-format store "will target neighborhood foodies who value fresh, healthy food options and pricing that doesn’t break the bank."

The store will emphasize natural and organic options and a wide selection of vegan, gluten-free and international items alongside full-service meat, seafood and deli departments stocked with organic, antibiotic-free meats and fresh, sustainable seafood.

bfresh will also play up indulgence items and a selection of locally relevant household and health and beauty items to make it a one-stop shop for many neighborhood customers.

In addition, bfresh will boast freshly prepared foods in its Little Kitchen, which is based on a model from La Place, a renowned fresh-food restaurant business in the Netherlands and Europe. Little Kitchen is a fresh-on-the-spot customer experience that brings scratch-made, always fresh, seasonal meals into the store.

Menus change daily, showcasing simple recipes, and all the food preparation is done in front of customers. Shoppers can choose to order fresh smoothies, salads, pizza, Asian stirfry, breads, desserts, coffee and more, according to Progressive Grocer, a sister publication of Convenience Store News

Located at 214 Harvard Ave. in Allston, the hours of operation for the bfresh market will be 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

“Today’s grocery shoppers face several challenges including balancing food needs with tight budgets, finding convenient shopping options to fit tough schedules, and feeding a strong desire to support local businesses. We sought to provide an easy-to-shop solution for the Allston community," explained Suzi Robinson, marketing magus for Fresh Formats and a developer of bfresh.

For its design, Ahold’s Fresh Formats subsidiary set out to create a visually appealing, inviting, flexible and fun look to “freshify” the grocery experience with a streamlined, simple layout.

"bfresh is designed for anyone who loves food and wants healthy, affordable, locally-sourced options in their neighborhood,” Robinson said.

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